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Retrieve hostname of recipient computer in MSN by file transfer?

Posted on 2012-08-30
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"A" and "B" are both on MSN Messenger. "A" is living in France, "B" is living in Italy. "B" is connected directly to the internet with an ADSL Modem with built in router. "A" sends "B" a file. "B" accepts and receives the file.

Is "A" able to retrieve the hostname/computer name of "B"? Or vice versa?

Can somebody take me through the steps, help is highly appreciated.
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Question by:watchtower66
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by:page1985
ID: 38352007
No, the file transfer connectivity is almost always handled by a proxy server in between.  The "direct connect" days of AIM 5.0 are gone because most users reside behind some kind of router of firewall which performs NAT and makes direct connections nearly impossible.  This type of connection only happens in extreme cases where proxy connectivity isn't available or one of the users is using a third party messenger client (like Trillian) which favors direct connect first.
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by:watchtower66
ID: 38352344
What about an IP address? I've seen some clips of people using "netstat" and "nslookup" while running MSN Messenger? Can such an IP-address lookup result in a hostname/computer name?

Programs like Nmap etc, how far can one get?
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by:page1985
ID: 38352366
Reliably?  Nowhere.  It is *possible* that under certain conditions you might capture something, but there is no sure-fire way to guarantee you will catch the correct address because there is no way to know if you are connected to the other user or a proxy server.

What is the objective you are trying to achieve?  What do we expect to gain by capturing this information?
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by:watchtower66
ID: 38352410
If a computer hostname has a resemblance with the computer owners name this reveals information as from who the message or file came. I mean to say that with if a person named "Jeff Harddrive" has a computer username "Jeff-PC" or "JHarddrive-PC". An IP could be thus linked to "JHarddrive-PC"?

With an IP address you have accuracy to some extent as in area - however when displayed with a hostname that resembles a real person name using that computer in that area makes chances alot bigger to find that actual person.

Thank you for your replies so far, could you explain the *possible* part?
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by:tliotta
ID: 38352579
Neither netstat nor nslookup retrieve "hostname/computer name" in the sense of actually accessing the remote device to retrieve it. Both of them rely on DNS queries. Those will usually try to resolve through a local hosts table first, then go to your DNS. A name in a DNS record has no required relationship to the actual "hostname/computer name".

If no DNS (or hosts) entry is available, then you won't see one. (Windows can add its own twists for name resolution at times as it wants to use "Windows" names within a Windows network. But the internet isn't a "Windows" network.)

Tom
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by:watchtower66
ID: 38353266
This happens from a MSN client on a Windows computer, does that make any difference? I find these kind of screenshots on the net which show the hostname:

http://img.brothersoft.com/screenshots/softimage/m/messenger_detect-446139-1312958473.jpeg

What can you tell me about these, why does it show up here though?
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by:watchtower66
ID: 38353764
My objective is to know if the sender or recipient in a conversation can trace your hostname/computer name when in a messenger client such as MSN. To be more precise, is this possible when chatting, a file is sent, webcam and/or voice chatting is active?
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Author Comment

by:watchtower66
ID: 38353976
I am trying to learn more about the system which people connect to using messenger services thus connecting to the internet.
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by:BillDL
ID: 38354131
watchtower66

What Vee_Mod asked is exactly what I wondered when I looked at your other three questions.  You have asked them in a kind of nondescript way that left me wondering if you:

A. Want to chat with other people but not let them know your proper name, where you come from, etc and possibly prevent yourself from being hacked,
OR
B. Want to know if it was possible for you to find out the various details about other people to learn more about them.

You have to appreciate that people here might not be too willing to give out much information if they thought that you wanted to do the 2nd thing, and that is why I have held back answering any of your questions.

Perhaps you could explain a little bit more about what your concerns are.  Other experts have given you some very good advice in this question, but I'm sure that they have kept things slightly generic because they don't know if you are (A) or (B) above.
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by:watchtower66
ID: 38354574
Thank you for your response.

I was checking my old mail lately and I found that there was a hostname in the email that I sent to myself, which was my computer name. However, that email was sent via a mail client on the computer, which resulted into showing that hostname/computer name in the mail header, where I found that computer name (see my other question).

This got me thinking, when is a hostname visible and can other people see or retrieve it?

A few years back I gamed a lot. I had a few contacts from a game I played at the time (A large MMORPG, you can probably guess which one) in my MSN list. We used the voice chatting option (when TeamSpeak was unavailable or not accessible to a non-Guildmember) in MSN to communicate while gaming. In-game screenshots were also exchanged.

I am asking these questions if they were able to retrieve my hostname/computer name (which was personal at the time) I guess yes, anonymity is the real concern in this one. Absolutely not to learn more about the identity of other people.

I did not want to get too personal in my questions, hence the "non-descriptive" way of asking them.
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by:BillDL
ID: 38354772
That's a perfect explanation watchtower66, and I'm sure will set peoples' minds (including Vee_mod) at ease immediately.  We're a suspicious lot here because of quite strict rules about what we can and cannot provide guidance for.  Thanks for updating.  I'll have a look at your other questions and see if I can offer anything else.  I'm not a gamer and had to google the MMORPG acronym, but your name now makes sense in context.  I had wondered if you were a Jehovah's Witness using the name of the distributable books ;-)
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38356289
no you can't as that information is not sent at any time.  The maximum details available are your client version, your profile name and maybe your public ip address.  If you are behind a router your private ip  is not sent as it is stripped by the router.   Microsoft takes your privacy seriously, you can change what you want to share by accessing your live profile.
https://profile.live.com
http://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/fullnotice.mspx#E2BAC

Within a local area network someone can sniff the packets and get the information displayed in your screen-shot. This is not available outside of your Local Network.
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by:tliotta
ID: 38356507
...when is a hostname visible and can other people see or retrieve it?

It should be mentioned that there is generally no reason even to care (unless you chose a name that is potentially embarrassing, or the FBI is tracking and building a pattern or something like that, I suppose.) For a personal system, it essentially doesn't matter at all. It's effectively meaningless across the internet.

Tom
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38356980
What you are seeing in that image is from software installed on that particular computer. note the ip address 192.168.0.102 and it was AIM chat..  This capture was from INSTALLED software on that computer that captures all chat activity.

Msn messenger and skype (sure about msn but not skype) allow to you keep records of your conversations.  Msn messenger will even show the previous conversation so you can carry on your older conversation if desired.  

If someone on the internet wanted to look for 192.168.0.102 have fun.. about half the consumer routers use that range for internal LAN clients..

Even if you had my PUBLIC ip address 70.xxx.xxx.xxx and tried to do a network discovery all you'd find is port 21/53/80 open to the public.. (FTP/DNS/HTTP web Server) with the web server without the correct hostname you'd still be no better off since you will get directed to a 'GO AWAY' image. ie. http://70.xxx.xxx.xxx/
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Author Comment

by:watchtower66
ID: 38357296
Thank you for the responses. I had sent mails to those contacts as well, from a hotmail account. I know that an IP (X-Originating) is sent with those, does that make any difference?
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Accepted Solution

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David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 1500 total points
ID: 38357782
Makes no difference at all.. They have to get past your router first..

think about it. the router receives an unsolicited packet unless you have a port-forwarding rule for that packet type (udp/tcp) and a specific port it doesn't know where to send the packet onward so it just drops it.
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