In Wired News, Quinn Norton has an interesting article on an open source CD that contains a self-contained operating system. The purpose is to never actually use the hard drive of the machine while still allowing internet access, thereby leaving no fingerprints that the machine was used. The CD runs OpenBSD, but it disguises the user’s profile so that others “see” that user as running XP SP1 so as not to stand out. It isn’t perfect, Norton advises that the experience is slow, but this is the first public unveiling of what is called a “live CD” based on Open BSD that is self contained, so you can expect the next version to run better.
Time will tell whether the author has succeeded in making a truly anonymous user, I would imagine that this release will result in a challenge for someone to try to find the flaws in the concept. Truly anonymous surfing is an ideal, one likely not to be achieved in the first attempt.
The existence of such CDs raise concerns for security experts and network administrators that now will have to try to make sure that their users aren’t using this CD (or its eventual ilk) to circumvent their security procedures already in place. Such CDs could also be used by dissidents seeking anonymity, but the more likely scenario involves office workers hiding their web surfing.