Print 42 comment(s) - last by Creche.. on Jul 7 at 3:01 PM

Censorship continues to be a big concern for China

A group of computer experts from the University of Cambridge claims that they are now able to circumvent the censorship mechanism that China uses to block unwanted content from reaching its citizens. Certain words are banned and certain websites are also banned. A user sitting within the country's network will not be able to reach websites for which the government has deemed inappropriate. China itself has defended its right to police the Internet for its citizens many times.

The group of researchers say that China's firewall is based on a a series of Cisco routers and the products work by censoring keywords. When a user wishes to access a websites that's banned, the router returns reset packets to the foreign website, severing the connection -- the data transmission is stopped at the foreign end-point. Using this bit of information on how the Cisco routers work, the researchers were able to find their way around the firewall by creating a system that ignores the reset packets sent by the Chinese routers.

Along with their discovery, the researchers also found that it was possible to create a denial-of-service (DoS) attack from within the firewall using the router's own blocking mechanisms. By masquerading the source IP address of a banned website to one that's within China's network, the researchers are able to ban users from within the network from accessing a Chinese government website for example.

Richard Clayton, spokesperson for the laboratory at the university told reporters that the researchers had reported the findings to the Chinese Computer Emergency Response Team.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Breaking the law
By bozilla on 7/4/2006 7:29:19 PM , Rating: 1
I'm very sure that the University who "defeated" their system is braking the law. A lot of people here don't seem to understand that you are supporting an interference with another country's sovereignty. If they want to censor the crap that is being advertised as sick, perverted or in other means against the rules of that country then nobody gives the right to US or anyone else for that matter to liberate people and hack this system.

If they want to censor it, let them do it, the people of China is the one who needs to decide whether that's good for them or not. Not you, nor me.

This is a major problem with the world today, acts of aggression towards other countries' legal systems in this way are completely unexusable and the US acts like it has some kind of obligation to interfere by breaking every law of democracy that we are preaching here.

It's funny how you respect your own laws locally but they don't seem to apply on the rest of the world.

The bottom line is this. It's in nobody's interest for China to be isolated because the money hungry corporations are just drooling over their market and how much crap they can sell and having the internet blocked ruins all of their plans.

You have to learn how to look at a big picture here.

RE: Breaking the law
By campreal on 7/4/2006 10:39:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a Chinese,I agree with you though I disagree the government.I think China will be more open in the future but it needs some time.

RE: Breaking the law
By Kuroyama on 7/5/2006 1:57:54 AM , Rating: 2
As a non-Chinese it is not my place to decide what should/should not be allowed. However, I find it interesting that almost all Chinese people I talk to at the university say nearly the same thing, I think China will be more open in the future but it needs some time. Maybe it's true, but the answer is so consistent that it makes me strongly suspect that the people hear the government line so much that they believe it without thinking about it much.

For the sake of being balanced, we in the US are certainly not immune to this. A poll a little while ago asked "Why do you think the terrorists attacked us?" and something like 75% (I'm too lazy to check) said "Because they hate our democracy and freedom". This is an absolutely stupid answer (and few people could answer the follow up question "Why do they hate it?"), but politicians repeat it so often that many have come to believe it, without deciding whether it actually makes any sense.

RE: Breaking the law
By calguy on 7/4/2006 10:57:19 PM , Rating: 2
The University is not breaking the law because all the commands were sent from Europe to China and not the other way round.

RE: Breaking the law
By Avalon on 7/5/2006 12:13:31 AM , Rating: 2
You're forgetting the small detail that Cambridge is in the UK, not the US.

RE: Breaking the law
By bozilla on 7/5/2006 8:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
Weird, I swear I read a US University name the first time. Nevermind, it everything I say it still holds for UK.

RE: Breaking the law
By yacoub on 7/5/2006 12:38:19 PM , Rating: 2
You have to learn how to look at a big picture here.
Hilarious, seeing how you completely miss the bigger picture.

RE: Breaking the law
By bozilla on 7/5/2006 8:54:37 PM , Rating: 2
No son, I've been living in every possible society and environments, from poverty to being very very well off financially, from communism, socialism to capitalism and so called democracy, from having bombs and bombers fly over my head not knowing whether bombs will hit my building or not and I am living in the States today looking at everything that's happening.

I'm pretty sure that you really have no idea what's going on in the world today and why things are done the way they are done.

I would like to hear what is it that you consider a big picture. I didn't miss anything, I'm just a bit more experienced in the way things work in today's world.

RE: Breaking the law
By rcc on 7/5/2006 2:44:39 PM , Rating: 2
That's right, blame the US. However, Cambridge U is in the UK.

>>This is a major problem with the world today, acts of >>aggression towards other countries' legal systems in this >>way are completely unexusable and the US acts like it has >>some kind of obligation to interfere by breaking every >>law of democracy that we are preaching here.

>>It's funny how you respect your own laws locally but they >>don't seem to apply on the rest of the world.

RE: Breaking the law
By bozilla on 7/5/2006 8:57:26 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure that University mentioned was US one and now it's Cambridge. I misread, however this doesn't change a thing. UK is the same thing as US to be honest, except that people are a bit more educated and informed. The government is still the same as in US (no wonder when they keep kissing US ass all the time, but that's another story).

RE: Breaking the law
By rcc on 7/6/2006 12:41:04 PM , Rating: 2
For someone as experienced and as well travelled as you claim to be, you don't see very well. There are many differences between US and UK people, customs, laws, and culture; none of which fit your description, IMHO of course.
Then again, I don't suppose the average "Westerner" really sees a big difference between Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, for instance; when it comes to the people, culture and government.

OTOH, I can't disagree with your original premise that it's a chinese problem, and needs to be addressed by the Chinese.

RE: Breaking the law
By bozilla on 7/6/2006 2:52:22 PM , Rating: 2
Well when I said it's the same I wasn't talking about people and customs and traditions. I'm talking about the government and the way it operates. It's not much different from the US way of looking at things and it's mainly because they are looking up to US in more ways then one.

Btw, I'm from Eastern Europe, and I know very well what England is like and other countries and I got to know how US works since I live in the States now.

So yes, I do know more then you think.

RE: Breaking the law
By Creche on 7/7/2006 3:01:01 PM , Rating: 2
Um...the whole idea is you modify something on YOUR OWN SERVER, you don't touch the chinese network. You got it backwards, the chinese have no right to tell you how to configure your server, so if it's set up in a way their firewall isn't suspecting...well, too bad for them, chinese people can see your content.

cat and mouse
By Kuroyama on 7/4/2006 3:23:19 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately this is a cat and mouse game, because they'll just fix their network to handle this method of attack. Would be nice if people in countries like China, Saudia Arabia, etc. could access sites their governments don't like.

Perhaps that's a bit hypocritical since I don't want people in the US to be able to view kiddy porn. I think "our government sucks" is quite different then abusing children, but I suppose it's not clear where to draw the line (is fomenting revolt in China OK? is it OK in the US?).

RE: cat and mouse
By bersl2 on 7/4/2006 4:37:09 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps that's a bit hypocritical since I don't want people in the US to be able to view kiddy porn.

Shouldn't you be more concerned about the people making said material, since this is where the welfare of the children is actually being violated?

Having made this argument before, I know that people don't react well to being told that they're wrong about this IMO, but I think that it's both an unnecessary abridgement of personal liberties and a waste of resources to pursue viewers of such material as opposed to creators. Thus, I see no justification for mandatory filtering of the Internet in any way.

RE: cat and mouse
By Howard on 7/4/2006 5:31:44 PM , Rating: 3
There wouldn't be so much of it if there weren't an audience for it (child porn).

RE: cat and mouse
By bob661 on 7/4/2006 6:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
There wouldn't be so much of it if there weren't an audience for it (child porn).
Bullshit! These child pr0n people aren't in the entertainment industry for God's sake. This isn't a busines with shareholders and customers wanting a product. These are sickos fulfilling their sick dreams providing a means for other sickos to fulfill their sick dreams. Child pr0n didn't start with the internet, it just makes it easier for the sickos to get the content.

RE: cat and mouse
By bob661 on 7/4/2006 6:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
Also, I think the internet makes it easier to catch these people because they leave a trail to be traced by the police and they can be fooled into thinking that the police are children. Otherwise, they would be underground and virtually impossible to catch.

RE: cat and mouse
By flexy on 7/4/2006 10:40:56 PM , Rating: 4
" I don't want people in the US to be able to view kiddy porn. "

I dont really think it's a matter what one personally "wants" other people to consume/see.

The inet will always be a place where there is literally *everything* on your finger tips...and "everything" includes things which are immoral/illegal/criminal.

It's the responsilbility (and morale) of the individual to chose from that variety. Blocking out content doesn't make a potential child-molester less "dangerous" - he might as well get his fix from other places. The problem itself stays. (The content does NOT MAKE the criminal....instead, the content is there because of criminal's/pervert's (so to speak) "demand" - otherwise that stuff wouldnt exist on the internet.

I just dont like blaming the MEDIUM - and blaming it for the fact that it is a medium with a HIGH amount of freedom and variety. (Mirror of society basically)

Because the "freedom" in the medium (internet) is a GOOD thing - all other problems arising from there have to be solved OTHERWISE.

Its the PARENTS responsilbility to watch over what their kids do, it's an individuals responsibility whether they d/l copyrighted music/warez....

This is basically the principle of a free society - and the chinese gvt and similiar restrictive gvts for sure are going the OTHER way in deciding FOR the individual "what is good for them".

Certain news, MIGHT BE BAD for a block it.
This and this mightbe bad, BLOCK IT.
Reports which are NOT in sync what the gvt thinks are BAD - so BLOCK EM.


It's dangerous saying "i dont want xyz to see zyx on the internet"....maybe for you it's k-porn (understandable !), for another person it's can be EVERYTHING, political controversial material, religious texts which someone doesnt agree, sexual preference, whatever.

People/Gvts did that throughout history btw by "defining" standards what is "bad" for a citizen and what is deemed appropriate. It's censorship - and EVERY government/regime will ALWAYS have a GOOD excuse and have a strong opinion that this censorship is only benefitial and legitimate and "good" and moral.

However, i really prefer making MY own decisions what is appropriate and where i get my news from etc.

RE: cat and mouse
By jtesoro on 7/5/2006 12:41:48 AM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't you be more concerned about the people making said material, since this is where the welfare of the children is actually being violated?

There wouldn't be so much of it if there weren't an audience for it (child porn).

Agree also.

The approach of addressing both the supply and demand side of the kiddie porn issue is valid. Authorities should find ways of identifying and catching those who produce and distribute it. At the same time they can also make it difficult to get kiddie porn in the first place. What to do with the viewers themselves, I'm not sure. But some combination of punishment, education and medical treatment might work.

RE: cat and mouse
By BZDTemp on 7/5/2006 3:54:25 AM , Rating: 2
I'm afraid you're pretty wrong about it not being an industry!

In fact I'm pretty sure a good deal of the perverts making kiddie porn is partly or even fully in it for the money. It's no different than anything else - if there is a buyer willing to pay enough, or enough buyer willing to pay a little, chances are someone will also sell.

Here in Denmark hte ISP's are either running, or just about to run, filters to block kiddie porn and while I'm against censorship I must say that in this case it's hard to be againt. Fortunately I'm very sure the censorship thing will not spread as it has demonstrated not long ago censorship is not really something we do here in Denmark (Think cartoons depicting Allah and burning flags, then you know what Denmark thinks about censorship and freedom of speech)

RE: cat and mouse
By Dfere on 7/5/2006 1:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. We should therefore seriously consider reducing the population of people who wish to view it. Lifetime incarceration for offenders with no internet privledges, or the gas chamber.

No demand for a good, no supply chain will continue to exist.

Simple economics.

RE: cat and mouse
By Creche on 7/7/2006 2:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
Alright, I have a couple important points to make here.

1. Most people who look at child porn get it from freenet, not a website (google freenet if you've never heard of it), so censorship doesn't really come in to play in blocking it.

2. Education and medical treatment? The people looking at child porn aren't stupid OR medically sick. I wouldn't even say that they're mentally sick, two of my closest friends like child porn...and I also wouldn't like to see them in jail for life or gassed. It's easy to demonize people you've never met or interacted with, but most of the audience for child porn are normal people with friends, family, and a 40 hour a week job. Those of you proposing harsh punishments, imagine if you'd still feel that way if your best friend or your father was into child porn (you might say their not, but most people who are won't admit it due to the fact it's a crime).

3. If you really want to cut down on the issue people have, the abuse of children, you should bring the entire operation above ground. The fact that child porn's illegal is part of the problem, it means the guys who are making it operate out of basements, and usually use force to make kids not talk about it. People attracted to younger children have been around for thousands of years, and a long time ago it wasn't considered unusual to marry and sleep with a 13 year old. Child porn isn't going away, for better of for worse, so if you want to make sure the children involved with it aren't abused, the best way to do that is turn it into an industry with strict government supervision.

4. The people looking at child porn aren't the problem. In fact, I'd say it's good for them to have access to it. Since child porn became reasonably popular, child abuse rates have started dropping, since potential pedophiles can get their fix with pictures instead of real kids. It was the same way with rape-based porn.

5. Censoring anything, and I mean ANYTHING, is an incredibly slippery slope. In my opinion, all obscenity laws (a bunch of laws with a fancy word that lets courts violate the first amendment) should be discarded. Abusing children is bad, yes, but the way to stop it is to go after the people abusing the children. Pursuing people looking at child porn because they're supporting these businesses would be like blaming people who wore cotten clothes for slavery. It just doesn't make sense. And you can already see the effects of this now, in some places in america people aren't allowed porn featuring beastiality or necrophilia, or in some places even extreme BDSM. Hell, even having to bleep the word fuck on TV comes from obscenity laws. And if you try and further the censorship of one of these materials, things are just going to degrade further.

Hope not too many people are mad at me about that...I understand there are some very unpopular viewpoints in there, but hopefully you'll at least think about them. Feel free to make baseless accusations about my own sexual preferences or moral fiber below, I collect them (have a big text file).

By Donegrim on 7/5/2006 4:49:44 AM , Rating: 2
Irritates me that the stuck up knobends at cambridge uni reported it to the chiniese emergency computer responce team. What the hell? They have officially sunk to exactly the same level as the people censoring the material in the first place. If they had kept their well bred mouths shut perhaps something useful could have come of this, and maybe for a few weeks people in china could have had access to information other than what their government spoon-feeds them.

By InternetGeek on 7/5/2006 7:04:54 AM , Rating: 2
If I read correctly the firewall works on a 'allow all-deny the following" basis not otherwise...

By Master Kenobi on 7/5/2006 9:25:36 AM , Rating: 2
For China's case since they filter so much, it would be more benefecial to block all traffic and have a whitelist, rather than allowing all traffic and having a blacklist. This would allow them to greatly reduce the ability of its citizens to circumvent this sort of thing.

By blackmetalegg on 7/5/2006 3:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
If the firewall is indeed created based solely on Cisco routers there's no way they'd work according to what you wrote. Cisco routers always go down the ACL from top to bottom and if you put down "allow any" and THEN deny... That second command is useless, since you've allowed everything to pass through already, and nothing is left for the router to block.

And to those who wonder why students from China keep saying "China will improve(in terms of censorship, just give it some time". What did you expect? They've been brainwashed since they were small. Talk to any Chinese who's more than 40 years old and who was lucky enough to not have been educated under communist's regime and that person will tell you how great the current gov't is.

By masher2 on 7/5/2006 11:13:21 AM , Rating: 2
> "If they had kept their well bred mouths shut perhaps something useful could have come of this"

Right. Had they just informed the Chinese people directly, the government never would have gotten wind of it, and censorship could have been forever circumvented.


By Hare on 7/4/2006 4:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
What is actually preventing a user from making a VPN connection to a computer in lets say the UK or Sweden? No limitations since all traffic is tunneled (and encrypted) from legal computer in another country?

By Hypernova on 7/4/2006 4:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
Or ToR and other encrypted proxies for that matter. Thing is most people don't even know they exist or where to find them.

By darkfoon on 7/4/2006 4:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
VPN requires a cooperating end-point, if you give a chinese person access to your VPN, the men in black suits may just show up at your door, and kindly ask you to stop breaking their laws.

Tor is a much better route, because its anonymous, and it doesnt bring anybody else into the problem except the participating party (e.g. chinese citizen)

misleading headline
By CSMR on 7/4/2006 6:01:47 PM , Rating: 3
Some researchers have found a vulnerability and "reported the findings to the relevant Chinese authorities. These are not people that are rocking the boat; they have not "defeated" China's system. They are trying to help China eliminate a flaw in the system. That doesn't "defeat" the system.

RE: misleading headline
By flexy on 7/4/2006 10:20:56 PM , Rating: 2
they probably got even paid for their "heroic" work.

By Maximilian on 7/4/2006 10:12:27 PM , Rating: 2
I thought the chinese were good at putting up walls too! Hahaha!

RE: well...
By proamerica on 7/4/2006 10:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
Good at putting them up sure... The Great Wall didn't work however, neither does this one... Now thats irony.

I dont know whats worse
By alley on 7/5/2006 6:30:21 PM , Rating: 2
Whats worse... people accessing some nasty shiznad on the internet or the Mother Government censoring everything we view/read on the net???

They already have the mainstream media sown up. Thats all censored at the highest levels... Where do they stop? How much longer will we be truly free to express ourselves? Or is freedom of speech already gone and forgotten.

We have to hang on to our civil liberties. As Benjamin Franklin once said "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little
temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety."

RE: I dont know whats worse
By dgux on 7/6/2006 9:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
China do censor, the US gov do spy (NSA & co) and Google keep traks of your file with the desktop tool...
A lot of governments around the world have defined that the internet is "potentially bad" because terrorists can freely communicate and kiddies can download movies and infringe copyrights.
The point is: if someone build a wall, someone else is gonna build a ladder to get over it...
Actually there is some sort of panic because of all the illigal-immoral-forbidden stuff on the internet but no solution can apply.
In Switzerland ISP are obliged to keep the e-mail headers transiting their servers for 6 months because of lawfull interception laws.
But what if the guy organizing a bomb is communicating with encrypted mails ? Too bad...
You see ? 99% of the suspicius mails are coming from small-fishes and the 1% who would be really interesting is encrypted and nobody can look at it.
It is a complete waste of resources, money and time.

People will be able to change this, not technology.

By Atrye4444 on 7/4/2006 3:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
It's interesting how when someone starts screwing with something that I consider important it just annoys me, but I think this is actually pretty cool. I oppose the idea of censoring material, so if someone screws with the system to do so, great!

By saechaka on 7/4/2006 10:05:37 PM , Rating: 2
the porn industry has officially changed it's spelling to pr0n to bypass this firewall.

Sudden Flood
By Fnoob on 7/4/2006 10:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
... of pop-ups and taskbar hijacking on the other side of the world...

By yacoub on 7/5/2006 12:36:43 PM , Rating: 2
"Richard Clayton, spokesperson for the laboratory at the university told reporters that the researchers had reported the findings to the Chinese Computer Emergency Response Team."

Gee wow that's just great. @___@

Maybe next time keep silent about it, or even better, release the information only to those whose purposes are served by circumventing it. At least then you're doing something useful and probably good.

By MercenaryForHire on 7/4/2006 3:46:01 PM , Rating: 1
... as the security hole they'd been merrily exploiting was narc'd out to the government by some Capitalist Pigs overseas. :P

Oh well, back to Tor.

- M4H

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Related Articles
China Defends Right to Police Internet
February 16, 2006, 6:44 PM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki