They ARRESTED ME for RIDING an ORANGE BICYCLE!!!

weev pointed out something that’s been bugging me today also. First boingboing and then Slashdot have carried the “story” that some guy was arrested and led off in chains “for using Lynx”.

For those not in the geek way, Lynx is a text-only web browser that’s often used on a text console, especially by administrators and others who need a nongraphical view of a website.

The story as reported by the websites is that our hero was just viewing this site using Lynx and then was arrested for being a hacker! Because the “user agent” information that’s sent to the site tells you which browser you’re using, and that isn’t a standard one. Or something.

This cannot be. Anyone who’s run a well-trafficked website will tell you that weird-ass user agents clog your logs all the time. Not only do you see lots of variations on every known browser and several programming languages’ web routines, but anyone can submit any user agent, so programs with names like SpoogeMonkey-ItalianDinner-0.003a and UrMomHawHaw-43-Kmart go by all day.

I have no idea what this guy was doing, but no one kicks down your door for having a weird user agent.

What a load of ignorant crap. Even for boingboing and Slashdot this is terrible.

9 thoughts on “They ARRESTED ME for RIDING an ORANGE BICYCLE!!!

  1. Samples from the last few months, minus the three dozen “Mozilla” variants
    Bond, James Bond (version 0.07)
    DA 5.3
    Gigabot/2.0
    Holmes/1.0
    Java/1.4.1_04
    Java/1.4.2_04
    MOT-A630/0B.81.37R MIB/2.2 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.0
    Mediapartners-Google/2.1
    Moozilla
    NetNewsWire/1.0.6 (Mac OS X; http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/)
    Openfind data gatherer, Openbot/3.0+(robot-response@openfind.com.tw;+http://www.
    openfind.com.tw/robot.html)
    SEC-SGHC100G/1.0 UP.Browser/5.0.5.1 (GUI)
    SIE-M55/07 UP.Browser/6.1.0.5.c.5 (GUI) MMP/1.0
    SiteBar/3.2.6
    UP.Browser/3.1.03-ERK1 UP.Link/4.3.3.4
    WebCopier v3.2a
    Wget/1.5.3
    Wget/1.5.3.1
    Wget/1.8.2
    Wget/1.9.1
    grub crawler
    sherlock/1.0

    1. Re: Samples from the last few months, minus the three dozen “Mozilla” variants
      Exactly
      I think I found a grub crawler on my porch yesterday. Ew.

      1. One Word:
        Firesomething
        The Firefox add-in allows anyone to generate their a semi-random user agent string every time the browser is started. Last time I started it, my browser identified itself as ‘Crumblycake LightningOstrich’.
        I expect that legislation is forthcoming to address this threat.

  2. I think the Mozilla people should take up SpoogeMonkey as a new browser branch and pay you lots of money. Oh wait, it’s open source, there is no money.
    Bastards.

  3. Hell, I don’t even have a well trafficked site, and I see all kinds of bizarre stuff. Firefox even has a plugin that lets you dynamically change the user agent to anything you like during your daily browsing session…

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