• Confic Magazine

Furret proves a point: How to ban-evade on SkipIRC

Updated: Jan 7

Media & Tech

by Furret/WarOnSound



Sep 26 2021 · 8 min read




 


Until 2020, the minimum age requirement to be a member of the SCP Wiki was 15. If you’re that young, there’s a good chance that you’ve never once heard of IRC at all outside of SCP. It’s one of the oldest ways of chatting with people in real time still around on the Internet today. It’s really showing its age these days; newer ways of chatting with people like Discord outclass it in every way possible.

Well, almost every way possible. SCP is one of the only large online communities that continues to refuse to have a Discord, clinging to IRC even as every aspect of it becomes increasingly outdated and unintuitive to the younger people that make up most of their audience with time. They have a whole list of reasons for this, and most of them are bullshit. For example, they say that voice chat is too hard to moderate, as if you need to have one (you don’t). There is, however, one arguable advantage IRC has over Discord, and that’s better security against trolls. The ability of IRC administrators to blacklist VPNs makes it harder for dedicated trolls to ban-evade, while it’s quite easy on Discord. However, this advantage doesn’t hold up in the face of a semi-competent troll with basic knowledge of IRC’s functions, and you don’t need much computer knowledge to understand how. In this article, I’m going to explain exactly how this one apparent advantage IRC has over Discord actually doesn’t exist, and explain why SCP staff still cling to what was once called a stone tablet of a chat platform despite it literally having no advantages over Discord.

If you (somehow) don’t know what an IP address is or what it does, don’t worry. All you need to know is that you have a public IP address, probably assigned to your router by your ISP and shared among all of your devices, that every online website and application sees when you connect to them. Your IP address is unique, and can be used to determine things like your approximate location, ISP, and postal code. If you want to see more things that can be found out with your IP, check out https://whatismyipaddress.com/. This is how websites like YouTube and Reddit are able to give you ads that are only relevant to people in your general area (for example, I get YouTube ads for the people running for public office in my state every election cycle because Google knows what state I live in based on my IP).

Now, for most people just browsing the Internet casually, this doesn’t matter at all. The websites you visit can get a decent idea of where you live, but they don’t share your IP or information with anyone. However, if you’re a persistent troll trying to fuck with people on Discord or IRC, it matters a lot. Because every online application you use gets your public IP address, and that address is unique to your router, it’s possible to prevent any device with your IP from connecting to a specific Discord server or IRC channel even if you make a new account to try to circumvent a ban. This is called an IP ban. All bans from Discord servers are automatically IP bans, and IRC channel operators/administrators can blacklist your IP as well.

So, if you’re a troll who has been banned from one of these places, and you want to get back in on a new account, what do you do? For Discord, the answer is to use a VPN. VPNs, by changing the public IP address websites and applications see when you connect to them, allow for the circumvention of IP bans. For IRC, it’s a bit harder. Because the operators and admins of an IRC channel can manually blacklist specific IPs, they can preemptively blacklist IPs known to be part of a VPN and deny a troll this easy method of circumventing a ban. However, that doesn’t make ban-evasion impossible, or even particularly difficult. Remember earlier when I mentioned that your public IP address is unique to your router? Well, if you can connect your device to a different router in, say, a coffee shop or something, your public IP changes, which allows you to get around IP bans. This means that any troll who can drive out to a local place with public Wi-Fi can get around an IP ban on IRC without much effort.

Now, the very rare troll who is too young to drive and can’t walk anywhere conveniently will be stopped by this, but a troll who lives in a big city has theoretically hundreds of IPs they can burn through circumventing IRC bans. If you need an example of this, look at T#S, an IRC troll who probably ban-evaded over 100 times. Remember that name, you’ll be seeing more of it later. The one apparent advantage IRC has over Discord crumbles in the face of the mildly determined. We can add “better security” to the list of bullshit reasons to keep using IRC over Discord.

So, if every “advantage” IRC has over Discord is either nonexistent or so small that it basically doesn’t matter, why do SCP staff insist on using IRC? Are they stubborn? In some ways, yes, but I’m pretty sure every member of SCP’s chat staff has a Discord account, and many of them are young enough to not be boomers about this, so I don’t think it’s that simple. Are they stupid? That’s definitely a possibility and may well be part of it, but long-time followers of this nightmare will know by now to not assume that SCP staff’s more baffling decisions are made out of pure ignorance or stupidity. Because of the secretive nature of the highest levels of SCP staff, there tend to be factors that the average person watching from afar doesn’t see, and the IRC issue is no exception.

If you looked at the thread about one T#S that I linked earlier in this article, you may have noticed something peculiar at the end. Our good friend djkaktus, then a member of chat staff on SCP, makes a rather cryptic post about how, thanks to the efforts of Mann, ProcyonLotor, and others, the issue has been resolved and the thread is being locked. Strange, isn’t it? This kid has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has absolutely no life, and will do literally anything to get five seconds of attention out of whoever happens to be in the IRC channels when he trolls, so something big must have happened for him to just drop off the face of the planet. Well, as it turns out, something big did happen.

Those are logs taken from a leak of SCP’s IRC chats, where ProcyonLotor brags about working with djkaktus and Mann to dox T#S and call his mom for IRC trolling. Yep. Procyon describes his method in those logs, but the short version is that he collected all the information he had on the kid, including the kid’s email and IP addresses, and Googled until he found a way to get the kid into real-life trouble for his relatively harmless (annoying, yes, but I have a hard time believing that T#S was actually causing major problems for anyone in SCP’s IRC chats at the time) Internet trolling. But wait, how did he get the kid’s email and IP address? Well, synIRC (the IRC network SCP used at the time) operators and administrators can see your IP when you connect to their channels, but they can’t automatically see your email. To get that, Procyon had to talk to a synIRC network operator who can see the registration emails of accounts (see him doing this to get Xenomorph666’s registration email here) and get it that way. But wait, there’s more! I said earlier that SCP used synIRC at the time, but they no longer use it. That’s because they now have their own IRC network, SkipIRC, where they can see your registration email and IP with no middlemen necessary, so doxing people is actually easier for them now than it used to be.

Crucially, none of this is possible on Discord. Bans from Discord servers are automatically IP bans, but Discord doesn’t actually show your IP or email to anyone (unless you’re buddies with the dudes who run it and they have no integrity, I guess). The most relevant difference between IRC and Discord, for SCP’s purposes, is that you can dox people much more easily on IRC. This is the real “better security” that they’re so reluctant to give up. Nothing else makes sense. There is no other advantage IRC has that Discord can’t replicate with a small amount of customization.

So, if you’re a troll who knows how to ban-evade on IRC and also don’t want to be doxed by SCP staff, or just a regular SCP user who likes your privacy, what can you do? Well, like I mentioned before, an IP address on its own is rarely enough to dox someone. You can typically narrow down their location to a single county, but that’s only so helpful if it’s the only information you have. So, the key to keeping your privacy from these people is to not give them any other information. Make a burner email for your SkipIRC account that has none of your personal information or other accounts connected to it, and never give out any of your personal or identifying information (this includes obvious things like your age but also particularly niche hobbies that would allow someone to connect multiple seemingly unrelated accounts to each other) to anybody for any reason (remember, the best doxers get your personal information by asking for it). Do all of that, and you should be alright even with chat staff knowing your IP.

I would like to say that, although I have just described how to effectively troll SCP’s IRC chats without suffering consequences for it, I don’t condone actually doing it. You’re not just going to be annoying actual doxers of children like Procyon, you’re also going to be annoying people who haven’t done anything wrong (other than exist on the SCP wiki, I guess), which I don’t think is a good thing. Perhaps that makes me a hypocrite, but I’m alright with that. This article exists, as the title implies, to prove a point to those people in SCP who still actually believe chat staff when they talk about the advantages of IRC over Discord.

Speaking of people who don’t condone trolling, if you’ve ever found yourself viewing the “Cybersecurity 101” thread on Kiwi Farms before, you may have noticed that the things I just said about avoiding getting doxed on SkipIRC are similar to how KF recommends that you don’t get doxed on their website. However, KF differs from SkipIRC in this regard because it allows and encourages its users to further anonymize themselves by using a VPN or Tor, while SkipIRC will ban you for that. This means that the doxing website actually affords its users more privacy than an IRC network full of people who will condemn it for doxing. Imagine that.

© WarOnSound

© Confic Magazine

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