Panta Rhei Remailer Web Page - Jack B. Nymble

About This Guide

The Jack B. Nymble v2 Beginner's Guide provides a brief tutorial on using JBN2 to send anonymous email and news posts. It also includes a discussion of nym accounts. This guide is intended for users completely new to remailers or JBN2. Once you have read this guide you will be better prepared to read the Jack B. Nymble v2 User's Manual, which documents JBN2's features.

If you're new to remailers, it is highly recommended that you READ this guide, instead of merely browsing it or looking things up in it.


Before reading this guide, you should install and configure PGP and JBN2 on your system as described in the User's Manual.

Be sure to set one SMTP server in Window|Send Profiles so that you will be able to send mail. For example:

    Enable: (checked)
    Profile Nickname: MyISP
    SMTP Server:
    From Header:
In From Header, be sure to specify your real email address. Some servers will reject mail from a fake address. The other fields not shown above may be left blank for the time being.

Introduction and Warnings

Anonymous remailers are used to send anonymous email messages, so that the recipient of the email is unable to determine who sent the message. In some cases remailers are used because a sender wishes to remain anonymous to the recipient. In other cases remailers are used because the sender is concerned with eavesdropping, and does not want it known to whom he is sending mail. Remailers may also be used to make anonymous posts to Usenet newsgroups. Here, the message is posted by the remailer, and the original poster is unknown.

Anonymous remailers are NOT intended to be used to harass people or send SPAM (commercial or unsolicited advertisements). These uses are considered abuse of the services, which are generally provided free of charge by individuals and organizations who wish to promote free speech, not harassment and commercialism. Find something better to do with your time.

Remailers accept specially formatted email messages, and email them to the recipient address anonymously, such that the message cannot be easily traced. (There are ways to trace some remailer messages. But for most purposes, remailer messages constructed by JBN2 can be considered 'untraceable'.)

Remailer messages are often sent using encryption, which means that the message is scrambled and cannot be read by eavesdroppers. Remailers are also often used in chains, which means that the first remailer sends the message to another remailer, which sends it to yet another remailer, etc. The last remailer in the chain sends the message to the final recipient. Chains and encryption make it much more difficult for eavesdroppers to trace messages.

Remailer messages require special formatting. This formatting may be done by hand, or may be done automatically using a remailer client, such as JBN2. When using encryption and chains, a remailer client will make things much easier, and will help prevent errors.

To use JBN2's basic features, you do not need to know much about how remailer messages are formatted, or how remailers work. But the better you understand remailers, the more secure your use of JBN2 will be, and the more you will be able to take advantage of it's features. This guide does not describe how remailer messages are formatted. It merely tells you how to use JBN2 to send anonymous messages. To learn more about how remailers work, and what JBN2 is doing 'behind the scenes', consult The Reliable Remailer User's Manual. You may want to peruse the beginning sections of that document before continuing with this guide, or you may do so later.

IMPORTANT: Remailers can be used with a high level of anonymity and security, but they may also be used poorly. Until you practice and better understand remailers, don't assume your messages are anonymous. New users often make errors, and these errors may not only reveal their identity, but sometimes can compromise their future use of remailers as well. For these reasons, it is highly recommended that new users only send test messages to themselves for awhile, until they feel they have a mastery of the basics, and are aware of the dangers. It is also highly recommended that this guide be read in it's entirety, as it will make you aware of various security issues.

Jack B. Nymble v2 is a sophisticated remailer client. Remailers have advanced modes of use, and at the time of this writing JBN2 supports every contemporary remailer feature available, and includes sophisticated automation features. That means that you will not quickly outgrow this software, but it also means that you cannot expect to learn the entire program at a glance. New users sometimes make the mistake of trying to master the entire program at once. Instead, learn how to complete one kind of task at a time. This guide will step you through the basic skills.

Stats and Keys

Before we get into using remailers, we first need to cover the basic skills of configuring Jack B. Nymble v2. JBN2 needs to know what remailers are currently running, and needs to have access to the key for each remailer. (Keys are used to encrypt messages so that eavesdroppers cannot read messages in transit.) This information is always changing, and if you don't keep your configuration up-to-date, most of your mail will get lost. (Remailers rarely bounce or return undeliverable messages - they just discard them.) JBN2 will help you to keep your configuration up-to-date.

Remailer Types

There are currently several types of remailers, including Cypherpunk (also called CPunk or Type I), Mixmaster (also called Mix or Type II), newnym, and alpha. Each type of remailer has a different way of functioning, supports different features, and expects messages to be formatted a different way. Until later in this guide, we will limit our discussion to Cypherpunk remailers only.

Remailer Lists

There are several publicly maintained lists of currently working Cypherpunk remailers. These lists (such as EFGA's and Drule's) are continually updated with fairly current information, including what remailers are available, and each remailer's reliability statistics. These statistics, when regularly downloaded and consulted, will help you and JBN2 determine which remailers are most likely to deliver your mail successfully.

In addition to the reliability stats, remailer lists also include remailer capability strings. A remailer's capability string includes the remailer's address (where you send mail) and describes what features the remailer supports. An example capability string is shown below.

    $remailer{"example"} = "<> cpunk pgp hash";
In the above example, the name of the remailer is 'Example'. Its address is ''. The capabilities listed tell us what the remailer supports. 'Example' is a CPunk (Cypherpunk) remailer, and also supports 'pgp' and 'hash' options. If you're interested in what 'hash' and 'pgp' mean, you can consult the Remailer Reference.

Fortunately, JBN2 will automatically download a remailer list, and configure itself using the listed remailer capability strings. It will also examine the stats, and display them within its various windows. All you need to do is tell JBN2 where to find a remailer list, and how often to download it.

JBN2 comes preconfigured with the location of several remailer lists, so you may need to do nothing. If you receive errors when refreshing stats, you should consult the Software Helpful Links page for the location of a current Cypherpunk remailer list, or ask on alt.privacy.anon-server. Remailer list URLs are entered in JBN2's Window|Stats Config|Cypherpunk. List your most reliable URL first, followed by other URLs.

You may tell JBN2 how often it should download the list and stats. Every 6-12 hours is recommended. Enter this in Window|Stats Config|Retrieve stats every n hours.

You can refresh your stats at any time by selecting Tools|Refresh Stats. If the first URL download fails, JBN2 will use the secondary URLs listed. View the list and stats using Window|Stats Browser.

Remailer Keys

In addition to the list of remailers, JBN2 needs each remailer's key. JBN2 uses PGP for encrypting messages to remailers, so keys for the remailers must be added to PGP's keyring. JBN2 will do this automatically if you tell it where to find the keys. Each remailer list usually tells where to find remailer keys. You may need to update the current location of one or more sets of keys in Window|Stats Config|Cypherpunk|CPunk Keys URLs.

Download keys by selecting Tools|Get CPunk Keys. JBN2 will ask you which sources to download keys from. After you have downloaded keys, JBN2 will check your configuration to insure you have each remailer's key. If you do not, you will need to find a source which has that remailer's key.

If you can't find a remailer's key, look the remailer's address up in Window|Remailers Config|Capabilities. Try sending a blank email to the remailer (using your regular email client for now) with the Subject: remailer-key. The remailer should email you a copy of it's PGP key. Copy this key to the clipboard, and in JBN2 select Tools|Add Key From Clipboard.

Remember that keeping up-to-date is important. JBN2's stats list needs current information or mail may be lost by currently unreliable remailers. Also, remailers sometimes change their keys for security reasons, so downloading keys regularly, and removing old keys from your keyring (to prevent encryption with the wrong key), will also prevent lost mail.

Once you have a current list of remailers, and a current key for each remailer, you are ready to use remailers to send anonymous email.

Sending Anonymous Email

JBN2 is highly automated, and sending an anonymous message is very similar to sending a regular email message using a standard email client. The main difference is that in addition to composing the email, you will also select one or more remailers through which the message is to be sent. The basic formula for sending an anonymous email message in JBN2 is:

  • Select and open a message template, such as Default.TBK.

  • Add the To address, message Subject, and message text.

  • Select one or more remailers.

  • Spot-check the message.

  • Queue the message.

Open a Message Template

Unlike other email clients, JBN2 uses a 'Message Book' to create a message. A Message Book is similar to the mail composition windows of most email programs. However, unlike most email programs, Message Books may also be saved. This allows you to easily automate sometimes complex remailer tasks. For example, you can create a book for sending mail to a particular individual. Each time you want to send mail, all you have to do is load the book, type your message, select currently reliable remailers, and press send.

Message Books (BK files) may also be saved as Message Templates (TBK files). When you open a Message Template, it becomes a Message Book. This prevents the Template from being overwritten.

For our introductory purposes, all you need to do is open the provided Message Template Default.TBK. To do so, go to Jack B. Nymble's Window|Explore, and find your Books folder, normally C:\JBN2\Books. Double-click on Default.TBK.

Compose the Message

Once Default.TBK is opened, you may compose your email message. It is recommended that you begin by sending a test message to yourself. Thus enter your own email address in the To field of the Message Book window. In the Subject field, enter Test Message 1.

In the large white box, enter your email message. Leave all other fields blank.

Choose Remailers

It's now time to select which remailer(s) will be used to send your message anonymously. This is referred to as the message's remailer chain. To add a remailer to the chain, select a remailer from the blue-green drop-down list beneath the words 'Add Remailer'. The remailer will be added to the list. Select a second remailer.

In the list of remailers, statistics are displayed. For example:

    Example         1:08 ++++8+++2+++  99  PRHGXATIN9
The time shown (1:08) is the remailer's default average latency in hour:minute format. To improve security, remailers delay messages by a certain amount of time, called latency. This number shows, on average, how long a message is delayed by this remailer. If you want your message to arrive quickly, choose a remailer with a short latency time.

The row of pluses (++++8+++2+++) displays the remailer's Uptime History, or depending on your configuration, may display it's Latent History. For an explanation of these, consult the legend of the Stats Page, available in Window|Stats Browser.

The next number (99) is the remailer's uptime percentage. This is a general indicator of a remailer's reliability. Try to choose remailer's with a 95 or higher uptime. (Note that sometimes a remailer's uptime is lower if it has a longer latency time, even though the remailer may be perfectly reliable.)

The options list (PRHGXATIN9) displays what features the remailer supports. For an explanation of these, consult the legend of the Stats Page, available in Window|Stats Browser. For our purposes, you may ignore this.

To change a remailer, click on it in the list, then select a new remailer from the drop-down list. To insert a new remailer, click on the remailer after the insertion point, and press Add. Then change the AUTO remailer which is added by selecting a remailer from the drop-down list. Familiarize yourself with this mechanism. You can press Clear to start from scratch.

The remailer called AUTO is a special placeholder. If you add an AUTO remailer to the chain, this tells JBN2 that you want it to choose a remailer for that position automatically. When the message is queued, JBN2 will examine the remailer list and stats and select a currently reliable remailer for that position.

Select a message chain of two remailers with good uptime, or AUTO remailers, and you are ready to Queue the message. (If you use AUTO remailers, be sure your stats have been refreshed recently. If not, select Tools|Refresh Stats.)

IMPORTANT: If you don't choose any remailers, your email message is sent as a non-anonymous, plain email message. Thus JBN2 may be used as a regular email client. Before such a message is queued, JBN2 will warn you that you didn't select any remailers.

Spot-Check the Message

It's a very good idea to get into the habit of spot-checking an anonymous message before queuing. JBN2's automation means that once you press Queue, the message will usually be created and mailed before you have any further say about it. Now is the time to insure that everything is as it should be, and that your anonymity and security is protected.

The following is a good security spot-check list to follow. Eventually this will become a very good habit. Some of these don't apply to the message we're currently working on.

  • Remailers
    You must select one or more remailers or your message is not anonymous! Between two and three remailers is recommended for both reliability and security. Using many remailers will increase the chances that your message will be lost.

  • Nym
    Is the Nym field correct? If sending an anonymous message, the Nym field must be blank!

  • Recipients
    Check the recipient(s) of the message in the To, CC, and Bcc fields. Be sure there are no unintended recipients or newsgroups.

  • Headers
    Check all the headers of the message, such as Subject, Newsgroups, etc. Be sure there are no unintended headers.

  • Body and Signature
    Spot-check the message text (body) to insure you have not revealed your identity. Also make sure you didn't accidentally paste unwanted text from another application. If you included a signature in the message, be sure it is the correct signature for the nym or identity you're using.

  • Encryption and Signing
    Did you remember to encrypt or sign the message to the final recipient(s) using the Encrypt and Sign fields? (Optional) Are these fields correct? Encrypting or signing with the wrong key may spoil your anonymity.

  • Attachments
    What attachments have you included? Be sure there are no unintended attachments left over from a previous use of this book. Did you encrypt and/or sign the attachments if desired?

Queue the Message

If the message passes your spot-check, you're ready to queue and send it. All mail in JBN2 is sent via a centralized mail queue. If the Queue button is gray and cannot be pressed, you forgot to configure or enable your SMTP information.

Unlike most email apps, JBN2 can send mail using any of a number of configured SMTP servers. Thus in JBN2 you don't merely queue a message, but you queue it to a particular Send Profile. One profile is the default, and mail is queued to the default profile using the Queue button. At this point you probably have only one Send Profile, which is the default. Hold the mouse over the Queue button without pressing it, and JBN2 will show you what profile the Queue button is configured to send to.

Press Queue now! JBN2 will begin constructing the remailer message (called 'running the book'), which involves various formatting tasks and PGP encryption. Several things may happen.

You may receive one or more warnings. JBN2 will generate warnings if a remailer you have selected has poor reliability stats (a stats warning), or if you have used a remailer incorrectly (a capability warning). If you press OK, the warning is ignored and JBN2 continues. If you press Cancel, queuing is canceled and you can correct the problem.

You may receive an error. An error indicates that JBN2 could not successfully create the message. Examples of causes include: you forgot to include a To address, you're missing a remailer's key on your keyring, PGP is not installed properly and failed, etc. The cause of the error must be corrected and then you may press Queue again. If you're stuck, try consulting the Troubleshooting Guide for Breitbandmarkt.

The message may be queued successfully. If everything goes well, the message is created and written to the mail queue folder.

To send the mail in the queue, select Window|Queue and press the Send button IN. As long as the Send button is IN, queued mail will be sent continuously. If you want to queue mail and then send it in a batch, leave the queue button OUT. Of course, to send mail you must be connected to your ISP. But mail may be created and queued offline.

To view a message before sending it, click on the message at the far left, then select Que|View Message. (This menu is also available by right-clicking.) If you included remailers, you won't be able to read the message, because JBN2 encrypts the message to all remailers in the chain using PGP. This prevents anyone except the last remailer from reading it or determining the final recipient.

You have now sent an anonymous remailer message. Depending on the latency times of remailers you chose, your message may take several hours or longer to arrive (latency is deliberately random), or it may not arrive at all (see the next section).

"My Message Didn't Arrive"

This is the most common problem of remailer use. Sometimes messages are sent and never heard from again. New users often conclude they have done something wrong, or that their software isn't working, but that's not necessarily the case. All remailer users experience lost mail.

Where do the messages go?

  • Sometimes a remailer is down or defunct, and is not processing mail. Any messages sent to it will be lost. Check current stats. Remailers tend to come and go, and you need an up-to-date list.

  • Sometimes a remailer is backed up with too much mail, or receives a mail bomb which interferes with processing, causing some messages to be lost. Or sometimes hardware or software malfunctions causing mail to be lost.

  • You may have an outdated or incorrect key for the remailer on your PGP keyring. If a remailer receives a message which it cannot decrypt, it discards it. Be sure you have only one key of each type (RSA and DSA) for each remailer. (Some remailers distribute both kinds of keys, so it is normal to have one of each type for a given remailer, but beware, for example, of having two RSA keys. Delete the older one.)

  • The remailers used in your chain may have trouble communicating with each other. Sometimes a remailer is unable to send messages to a particular other remailer. Check the Chain Stats in Window|Stats Browser.

  • The final remailer may have trouble sending the mail to your recipient. Is his account working properly? Did you specify the correct address? Sometimes ISPs reject mail from remailers. Maybe the recipient's ISP is incompatible with the last remailer in the chain, or has a connectivity problem. Unlike regular email, undeliverable messages don't bounce back to you. (They wouldn't be very anonymous if they did.)

  • Your remailer message may have been incorrectly formatted, or is generated by a MIME client. If a remailer receives an incorrectly formatted message, it will discard it silently. This is the cause of a lot of lost, manually constructed remailer mail. Using JBN2, you're quite assured that this isn't your problem, because JBN2 will not send an incorrectly constructed message without at least a warning.

  • The remailer may be pgponly, which means it requires messages to be encrypted. Unencrypted messages are discarded. Using JBN2, this is not a concern, because JBN2 encrypts all messages.

  • The message may be delayed longer than expected. In some cases, usually involving malfunctions, remailer messages may get delayed by several days or more.

  • The message may have be too large for one or more remailers in the chain. Remailers have maximum message sizes which vary from 30K to 1M or more, and will discard oversize messages. JBN2 will warn you if a message is too large for a remailer you have selected, if the information is listed. Consult the Window|Stats Browser Stats page legend for how to read a remailer's maximum message size.

  • Mysterious forces may be at work. Remailers offer military-grade anonymous and secure communication world-wide, and there are those who would seek to sabotage such communication. Your message may be deleted as part of a general campaign against anonymous communication.

What To Do

If your message doesn't arrive, send it again using different remailers. (If you used AUTO remailers, each time you queue the message different remailers may be selected based on current stats.) Send some test messages to yourself through different remailers, in chains of one and two. In time you will get used to which remailers work best for you, how long they take, and which to avoid. Just because a remailer has good stats or works well for someone else, doesn't mean you will have the same results. Use what works best for you. If a remailer stops working, make sure you have the current key, and no outdated keys. If it still doesn't work, choose others for a few days, then test it again.

JBN2 makes it very easy to resend a message, and now you will see why Message Books are used. Whenever you run a book (queue it), if Options|Auto-Save Book On Queue is checked in the book, JBN2 automatically saves the book file, such as Default.BK. (You can also save the book with another name using File|Save As.) To resend a message, you need only open that Message Book, choose different remailers, and press Queue.

A second message management feature of JBN2 is the Message Archive facility on the Extra tab of the Message Book. Here you may instruct JBN2 to save a copy of each message to your Sent mail folder, along with a copy of the book used to create the message. You can then open the Message Book directly from the View Mail window. If you use this feature, you'll probably want to disable Options|Auto-Save Book On Queue.

It is often a good idea to save a book file for each message you send. In this way, if the message does not arrive, you can open the book and see which remailers you used. You may wish to make a note of which remailers often give you problems and avoid those remailers, at least for a week or so. (Remailer reliability sometimes fluctuates.) Then you can use the book to resend the message.

Sometimes after you thought a message was lost it will arrive, after you sent another copy. Most remailer users don't mind receiving an extra copy of a message. They realize that you may be having problems or want to insure that the message arrives. If you send mail to other users, you may want to explain what a remailer is, and why they might receive an occasional extra copy.

Other types of remailers, such as Mixmaster and newnym, provide ways to send extra copies, while insuring that only one copy is mailed to the final recipient.

Posting Anonymous Messages

Remailers may be used to make anonymous posts to most Usenet newsgroups. In some cases some newsgroups are blocked by the remailer, remailers are blocked by news routes, or certain types of messages are restricted. Because of these added complexities, it's very important that you have a basic mastery of sending anonymous email before you attempt to make anonymous posts. If you can't send anonymous email reasonably reliably, your problems and uncertainty will be compounded. So practice sending yourself anonymous test messages before continuing.

Anonymous posts are made via anonymous email. This allows you to use all the email features of anonymous remailers to provide you with strong anonymity and security, such as encryption and chains. The only difference is that the final destination of the message is a newsgroup instead of an email address.

There are two methods of sending anonymous posts. The 'mail2news' method involves sending an email to a mail2news gateway, such as Such gateways simply receive the email and post it. The gateway does not anonymize the email, so it is vital to use one or more remailers to deliver the message to the gateway, or your message will not be anonymous.

The second anonymous posting method is to use a remailer which supports the post capability in it's capability string. Such a remailer, given the correct command, will post a message instead of remailing it. When using this method, the last remailer in your chain must support post.

When constructing messages using JBN2, both of these methods are performed the same except for one or two steps. The following example will split into two roads. Follow whichever method you wish to use, 'mail2news' or 'post'.

The basic formula for making an anonymous post follows:

  • Select and open a message template, such as Default.TBK.

  • Choose a posting method and specify newsgroups

  • Compose the message

  • Select one or more remailers.

  • Spot-check the message.

  • Queue the message.

Open a Message Template

Open Default.TBK just as you did for the anonymous email example.

Users often find it convenient to create a Message Template just for posting to newsgroups. This automates the first few steps. Two example templates are provided with JBN2, illustrating the two posting methods (Anon Post.TBK and Anon News.TBK). But for this example, please use Default.TBK.

Note: Even if you use the post method, your message may go through a mail2news gateway, because some remailers use gateways to post. This doesn't affect JBN2 use, but is good to know.

Choose a Posting Method and Newsgroups

As explained above, there are two methods for making anonymous posts. Choose your method.

If you are using the mail2news method:

  • Choose a mail2news gateway, such as or Several available gateways are listed in the drop-down list of the To field. LCS and Zedz (formerly Replay) are the most reliable at the time of this writing.

    Enter the gateway address in the To field.
    [Some remailer users specify BOTH gateways, placing a comma between them. For example:,
    This helps increase the odds of success, and generally will not result in duplicate posts.

  • Add a Newsgroups header. The box beneath the Subject field is used to add headers to your message. Click on the drop-down list beneath the box, and select Newsgroups:. Enter the newsgroup(s) you wish to post to. For example:
            Newsgroups: alt.test,alt.test.a

If you are using the post method:

  • Enter in the To field, "Anon-Post-To: " followed by your newsgroups. (You must type "Anon-Post-To:" exactly, except for case, or choose it from the drop-down list. For example:
            Anon-Post-To: alt.test,alt.test.a
    Do NOT use Post-To. Post-To is an older directive which may cause some remailers to post the message non-anonymously. Always use Anon-Post-To when using the post method.

    If you're using Mixmaster remailers (which is covered later in this guide) you must use "Post: " instead of "Anon-Post-To: ".

  • Be sure there is NOT a newsgroups header in the headers box when using the post method.

No matter which method you used, you may wish to add an X-No-Archive: yes header to your message, by selecting it from the headers drop-down box. This header requests that services such as DejaNews, which archive news posts, should not archive your message. Note that not all archivers honor X-No-Archive headers.

For more information on how to use the Headers box, consult the User's Manual.

Incidentally, now is a good place to save a Template of your posting method, by using File|Save As Template. In the future, you can open the Template instead of performing the above steps every time.

Compose The Message

Enter a subject in the Subject field. News posts require a subject. Enter your message text in the text box.

Choose Remailers

Select one or more remailers, just as you did in the anonymous email example.

If you are using the post method, the last remailer in your chain must support the post capability. This is the remailer which will post the message. This will show as a "P" in the options listed next to the remailer's uptime. (JBN2 will warn you if you don't use a post remailer.)

If you are using the mail2news method, you may choose any remailers.

IMPORTANT: When using the mail2news method, you must use one or more remailers, or your post will not be anonymous. Mail2news gateways do not anonymize messages, they merely post them.

Spot-Check the Message

It is very important to spot-check news posts, because it is usually impossible to cancel an anonymous news post once it appears on news servers. Spot-check your message for security and completeness just as you did in the anonymous email example.

Queue the Message

Queue and send the message exactly as you did the anonymous email example.

"My Post Didn't Show Up"

Anonymous posting requires patience. First, all of the causes of lost email also apply to anonymous posts, because until the last stage, the post is an email. If the email never reaches the final remailer or gateway, it won't be posted.

Further, there are additional reasons why a post may not appear:

  • The post may be delayed. Depending on which remailers you choose, your message may take several hours or longer to be posted. Then the message must propagate to various news servers. Posting anonymously requires more patience than non-anonymous posting.

  • The post may appear on some news servers, but may not appear on your ISP's news server. Some remailers and gateways have better news injection than others. Sometimes you will see a reply to your post, but you won't see the original post. This is how you know your post arrived. You may wish to use a public news server if your ISP has poor news feed. You can also cross-post (specify more than one newsgroup) to a test newsgroup which you know is carried by your server. Sometimes this will help the server receive the message in the other group.

  • A remailer may block some or all newsgroups, which means they refuse to remail messages destined for certain newsgroups, or don't support newsgroup messages at all. This is usually due to past abuse or complaints. You might try requesting a remailer-conf report, to see which newsgroups or newsgroup domains are blocked by a particular remailer.

  • A mail2news gateway may block remailers or some newsgroups, which means they refuse messages from remailers or messages destined for certain newsgroups.

  • The message may be cancelled. Some bots are programmed to cancel messages from remailers, because of abuse or because remailers have been used to SPAM the group.

  • Content filtering. Although this is generally frowned upon in the remailer community, some remailers may block messages based on their content or headers.

What To Do

If your posts don't appear, first be reasonably sure that the remailers you're using are working properly. Next, try assorted mail2news gateways, and different remailers last in the chain. You may wish to retrieve the remailers' remailer-conf reports. (These reports are also archived here.)

Mixmaster Remailers

Like Cypherpunk remailers, Mixmaster remailers (sometimes called Type II remailers) are used to send anonymous email messages and posts. Mixmaster messages are formatted differently than Cypherpunk messages, and must be created using the Mixmaster client instead of PGP. (JBN2 will handle the Mixmaster client for you.) Some remailers are both Cypherpunk and Mixmaster, which means they accept messages in both formats.

Mixmaster remailers are designed to be more secure than Cypherpunk remailers. For one thing, each Mixmaster message is the same size - 30K. (Larger messages are automatically broken into pieces, then reassembled.) Mixmaster messages are used to send outgoing mail. They may not be used in nym account reply-blocks. (See the next section of this guide for an explanation of reply-blocks.)

To use Mixmaster remailers, you first need to install Mixmaster on your system, which is as easy as unzipping a file. Follow the User's Manual: Mixmaster Installation Instructions.

Mixmaster remailers also have keys, which are stored in a file named pubring.mix. The list of remailers available for use is stored in type2.lis. JBN2 will automatically update these files when you select Tools|Get Mix Keys.

Once Mixmaster is installed and the keys have been downloaded, open a Message Book and select Remailers|Mixmaster. Mixmaster remailers will now be listed in the drop-down list of remailers, and may be added to the message's chain in the same manner that Cypherpunk remailers are used.

Nym Accounts

Another type of remailer is a 'newnym' remailer, or nym-server. This kind of remailer requires each user to set up an account. Each nym account provides the user with a pseudonym (nickname) which can be used to send email, posts, and to receive messages. In this way your messages are attributed to your particular pseudonym, and you can receive replies without anyone knowing your location or identity. Through the use of encryption and chaining, even the administrator of the nym-server does not know who owns an account. Having a nym account is a bit like having a P.O. Box which cannot be traced back to you.

Nym accounts provide a high level of security and anonymity - by far the strongest available on the net. It does however require a bit of practice and patience to maintain a nym account. Before attempting to set up a nym account, be sure you have practiced sending anonymous email. You will need to be fairly proficient at sending anonymous email to use a nym account successfully.

There are three issues involved in owning and using a nym account: configuring the account, sending mail, and receiving mail.

To create or configure your nym account, you create a nym configuration request. This contains a set of commands understood by the nym-server, a PGP key which you created for the account, and your reply-block(s). You encrypt this configuration request and send it to the nym-server through a chain of anonymous remailers. Because the nym-server receives the request anonymously, it does not know your identity. Once you have established an account, all further requests must be signed with your account's PGP key. This prevents others from reconfiguring or deleting your account.

Once your nym account has been created and configured, you can send mail from your account to any email address. You can also post to newsgroups using mail2news gateways. Your nickname and account address appear on all messages you send from your nym account, and are replyable (unlike purely anonymous messages). To send mail from your nym account, you create a send request, which contains your account name and the message. You then sign this request with the account's private PGP key, which only you possess. This allows the nym-server to verify the authenticity of the message, and prevents others from sending mail from your account. The send request is also encrypted to the nym-server for privacy. You send this request to the nym-server through a chain of anonymous remailers. Because the nym-server receives the request anonymously, it does not know your identity. The nym-server decrypts the message, verifies the signature, and mails the message to the recipient on your behalf.

When someone sends a message to your nym account address, the nym-server forwards the message to you using your encrypted reply-block. An encrypted reply-block is a chained and encrypted Cypherpunk remailer message. You create the reply-block when you create the account, and send it in your configuration request, and the nym-server keeps it on file. The nym-server encrypts the message using your account key, then appends the message to your reply-block, and mails to the first remailer of your reply-block. Thus the message travels to you through a chain of anonymous remailers. Because the reply-block is encrypted, the nym-server cannot see the final destination. Thus the nym-server is able to send you mail without knowing your identity.

En route, the message may be encrypted by each remailer. This provides anonymity and security. The last remailer sends messages to you, but does not know where it originated from, and cannot read it.

A nym account may also have multiple reply-blocks. This means that each message is sent to you multiple times, through different chains of remailers. This way, if one remailer fails, you still get your mail.

JBN2 automates many of the above tasks of managing and using nym accounts. Message Books are used to send mail from your account. Nym Books are used to create and configure your account, and create your reply-blocks.

This guide does not go into the details of creating a nym account, because this is covered in some detail in the User's Manual: Creating a Nym Account. If you have practiced sending anonymous email with Cypherpunk remailers, you should be well prepared to create a nym account. You may wish to begin with the Quick Nym.NBK Nym Book located in your Nyms folder. This example Nym Book gets a secure nym account up and running with a minimum of trouble.

Once you have created an account, sending mail from the account is very simple. Mail is sent in the same way that an anonymous message is sent, using a Message Book. The only difference is that in the Nym field of the Message Book, you enter (or select) your nym account address. Select a chain of remailers, and JBN2 will automatically create a nym send request, and send it anonymously to the nym-server, who then mails it.

When you receive nym mail, it is usually encrypted several times. JBN2 stores your passphrases when the account is created, and will automatically decrypt your mail. If you use another email program to retrieve your mail, you can copy it to the clipboard, open JBN2's View Mail window, and press Ctrl-B (Tools|Decrypt|Clipboard). JBN2 can also decrypt the mailboxes of other email programs directly.

Common Pitfalls - What To Avoid

As recommended at the beginning of this guide, new users of remailers and nym accounts should limit their use to test messages. This helps you to feel more comfortable while you're learning, and helps maintain a better degree of anonymity in the event of errors.

Once you're comfortable with remailers you can begin using them for real purposes. Always keep in mind that no security is perfect. There are ways to trace some remailer messages, such as using traffic analysis, if a nosey, well-resourced organization devotes enough effort to do so. Also, mistakes and software problems can contribute to breaches of security. Never be convinced that you are 100% anonymous. Do your best to maintain a level of anonymity which meets your needs.

The following is a list of common pitfalls and dangers which you should be aware of when using remailers and JBN2.

  • PGP is designed for security, but not anonymity. Whenever you encrypt a message, anyone can see what key the message is encrypted to, even if they can't read the message. PGP has a feature called Encrypt To Self, which causes the program to always encrypt the message with your key, in addition to the key of the recipient. This feature allows you to decrypt all messages you encrypt to others. But in terms of anonymity, this feature can seriously undermine your anonymity. Thus Encrypt To Self should be turned off in PGP. The JBN2 User's Manual includes instructions on how to disable Encrypt To Self in PGP. (Normally this feature is not enabled unless you enable it, but you should verify that it is off.)

    Some versions of PGP also include Comment or unique Version headers in each encrypted message. These are visible at the top of the message. Choosing a version of PGP which limits such headers will improve your anonymity. JBN2 will also strip off most PGP headers when encrypting messages.

  • When testing a nym account, never send test messages from your nym account to your real email address. If anyone is monitoring the mail, it will be obvious that you are the owner of the account. Likewise, never send email from your real email address to your nym account address, except through a chain of remailers. The general rule of thumb is: Never communicate directly with your own nym account.

    The best way to test a nym account is to securely send a message from your account, to your account. This will test both outgoing mail and your reply-block(s). Another method is to send an anonymous message through several reliable remailers to your nym account. This will test your reply-block.

  • Be sure to get your remailer keys from reputable sources, and when possible check signatures on the keys. One attack against remailers involves distribution of fake keys and interception of mail. You should familiarize yourself with PGP's documentation for the various vulnerabilities of public-key cryptography.

What's Next?

Now that you've read this guide, and hopefully practiced the methods described, you have the basic skills to send anonymous email and posts. There is much more to learn about remailers, and how they can be used with greater reliability, convenience, and security. There is also much more to learn about JBN2. JBN2 includes a large feature set with a great deal of flexibility, allowing the user to automate and customize various remailer tasks.

Your next step in expanding your understanding and skills might be to read the Reliable Remailer User's Manual, which will give you a better understanding of how remailers work, and what else they can do. This will in turn enable you to understand and use the more advanced features in JBN2.

It is also highly recommended that you take the time to read the Jack B. Nymble v2 User's Manual. Although you may not be in the habit of reading the documentation for Windows software, JBN2 is more sophisticated than most software, because remailers can be used in complex ways, and give rise to many tasks which need to be handled and automated. By reading the User's Manual, you will familiarize yourself with most aspects of the program.

Please pay special attention to the Program Security section of the User's Manual. This describes where JBN2 stores your configuration and email, and how you can make your computer more secure by adding a RAM drive, disk encryption, and firewall.

It is also recommended that you read PGP's documentation, as there are various things you should know about encryption, and what to avoid.