The difference between anonymity and untraceability is clear for me in the context of e.g. voting (you have to identify your self but your vote can not be traced back to you guaranteeing untraceability but not anonymity). However, when we talk about a device sending a broadcast message, for me the difference between anonymity and untraceability is not clear. Can somebody give me an example of such a situation illustrating the difference?

  • I think we're missing some context about the network and the device. Why would a broadcasting device require or desire anonymity or untraceability? And from whom?
    – schroeder
    Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 16:21
  • 1
    I think anonymity would in the general sense anonymity of an identity, whereas untraceability would be just no correlation between the data and the identity Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


The difference between untraceability and anonymity is quite subtle which makes this question is interesting so here's my attempt at differentiating them in context:

A packet is untraceable if it sends a broadcast message from a non-static IP (that would have to be regularly changed, ideally right after sending the packet). If the host device is not reachable given the information in the packet, it is untraceable. It may have uniquely identifying information such as MAC address or hardware info, but as long as it cannot be contacted given just the packet and routing table information, it is untraceable.

A packet is anonymous if it cannot be tied back to a MAC address or other uniquely identifying information. This would require the packet payload to also be ambiguous (so sending a message detailing a unique hardware configuration would not be anonymous). Anonymity does allow for the concept of "aliases", so sending from a static IP not tied to the distinct hardware would still work.

  • I don't agree with your conclusions. If there is a switch in play, then the port the broadcast message was sent from would be known and hence traceable. Trying to achieve untraceablty from within the local network is going to be very, very difficult. This is why I'm asking for more details from the OP. Context is really going to matter. I also don't agree with your definition of anonymous. Network-level anonymity has the same problem. Anonymity is a function of identity. Again, more of a function outside of the local network.
    – schroeder
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 19:45
  • I think the term "broadcast message" is not clearly defined by the OP which makes this difficult to answer.
    – schroeder
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 19:48
  • True, the question was vague and definitions are ambiguous. And it really depends on the device to which untraceability is desired. I do think my answer is valid though, and anonymous was defined as distinct identity and anonymity to the receiving devices would be achieved in my contrived example.
    – belkarx
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 20:15

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