Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Secrets of Web Hosting

8 May 1999

This site's host, AOL PrimeHost, has initiated a new snooping feature which we didn't ask for, wasn't consulted on and find obnoxiously privacy-invasive: our access log now automatically shows what URL was visited just prior to accessing a file here. In the case of those coming from search engines, it gives the topics and/or keywords the visitor entered for searching. Here're samples (addresses xxx-ed. The second is the NSA daily bot - note its prudent use of a proxy gateway - which is as welcome as meat-hunks):


Since we don't know who has access to our logs, and have to assume they are many (see below), keep in mind the beneficial use of an anonymizer and hope that the anonymizer is not compromised -- a long shot according to recent news reports.

PrimeHost is being bought by Verio we're informed, so it's going to get worse as the fucking-millionaire-wannabes race to meet "business market demand" for snooping on unwary consumers, having learned the lessons of success while pigging out on mega-sales to world's intelligence agencies snooping on citizens, like IBM , HP, Lotus, Netscape and Microsoft -- see:

Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 10:08:47 -0400 (EDT) From: Message-Id: <> Subject: Your PrimeHost Service -- Important

Dear PrimeHost Customer,

Important! A change in your web hosting service is coming, and it's one we're certain will enhance your online business! America Online, Inc. recently reached an agreement with Verio, Inc. under which Verio will be the exclusive business Web-hosting provider throughout AOL, CompuServe, AOL.COM and AOL's Digital City. Verio is the world's largest domain-based Web-hosting company and a leading provider of comprehensive Internet services to businesses. As part of that arrangement, Verio is purchasing certain web hosting customer accounts from AOL, including yours. Beginning in early May Verio will thereafter also assume responsibility for supporting these accounts.

How does this affect you? Verio offers a range of web-hosting plans, some with greater capacity and more features than what you currently enjoy, which in many cases may cost less than what you are currently paying. Shortly you will receive a postal mailing with details of the Verio web-hosting plans available to you, and the simple steps needed to transition your account to one of those plans. In the meantime, if you have questions about the transition, please contact or call 1-877-874-6265 Monday to Friday between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern Time (US).

Both AOL and Verio are working closely together to make this brief transition period as simple as possible for you. Verio looks forward to serving your continued web-hosting needs, and to making the Web work for you!


Verio, Inc.

5 June 1998


There are about 3200 files on -- texts and related graphics -- put here since June, 1996. If access statistics interest see ours. A directory of all files is available via FTP: The 250K list will take a while to load. The bulk are misdated February 26, 1998, when our ISP moved the lot.

Alert: There are files listed in the directory we didn't put here and don't know who did. They come and go. Today we discovered a huge (12MB) foreign file which appears to be a core dump by AOL, our ISP, that contains private information about this site and other sites of AOL customers (we've tried to delete it but cannot). We're dismayed by this clumsy security of AOL, leaving trash for dumpster diving, but we can't prevent it; we've asked for tighter restrictions and been denied. Hence a warning on privacy:

Privacy Warning

We don't willfully disclose, but that's no assurance with the way the Internet is designed for the convenience of its operators which leaves it open to wizard intruders. We don't know who's snooping our site and logs with intrusive tools. We can see that AOL checks this site several times a day, leaves trash around containing private data, sometimes cleans up, sometimes not, all allowed under our contract so it claims -- or the trashing's being done by an authority camouflaged as a renegade, inadequately supervised, ISP sysadmin. Due to lax security we see evidence that unidentified prowlers can poke around and leave who knows what hooks, traps, sniffers and contraband.

So we don't promise false assurances of privacy which dissolve through negligence, duress, business deals, bribes and increasingly sophisticated intrusive technology. We believe it's best to try to protect your privacy with trustworthy and up-to-date armaments -- particularly with the use of anonymizers, strongest encryption and vigilance against snooping -- and to distrust disarming statements of privacy policy that are probably out of date and touch. Or stay far away from an Internet seemingly purpose-built for covert surveillance of unwary users.


Searching is not available. Use a general search engine, such as AltaVista with "" as one of the terms. Updates go to AltaVista +/- weekly.

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