backtop


Print 20 comment(s) - last by Pythias.. on Sep 18 at 12:50 PM

Researchers helped provide a rare glimpse into how the great Chinese firewall really works

According to researchers from the University of New Mexico and University of California, Davis, the firewall used by the Chinese government to censor Internet material is not really as secure as the government wants users to believe.  Researchers discovered that much objectionable content could still be viewed, especially if online traffic was high.

Instead of simply blocking all web sites that feature content on a banned subjects, the Chinese government chooses to use a large dragnet that looks for the use of banned words.  If the Chinese system detects any banned words, reset commands are sent to the source and destination of the banned word.  Researchers found that the "'resets' effectively break the connection" so results will not be returned.

This different type of filter ultimately encourages a certain level of self-censorship - since Chinese users know that selected words are taboo, the users may choose to avoid the topics altogether.

"Imagine you want to remove the history of the Wounded Knee massacre from the Library of Congress," said Jed Crandall, University of California, Davis assistant professor of computer science.  "You could remove 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' and a few other selected books, or you could remove every book in the entire library that contains the word 'massacre.'"

Both universities who took part in the study are now collaborating to work on ConceptDoppler, a tool that is able to give researchers a report if censorship in China changes.

Internet censorship in China runs rampant, with a number of popular web sites not available to traditional Internet users.  The Flickr photo sharing web site successfully loads, but users are greeted with a screen without images.  Several different popular online blogging services also cannot be used by Chinese users.    

The Great Firewall of China web site allows users to test if a specific URL is blocked by the Chinese firewall.


Comments     Threshold


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

So how do we work around it
By jak3676 on 9/17/2007 1:47:11 PM , Rating: 3
It's been a while since I did any web programming (and I never was that serious at it), but this seems like a fairly simple thing to work around. I think it's got to be more to it than that. There are already several ways to get information into (or out of) China - but the Chinese are pretty good about filling those holes. It's always been a matter of finding holes quicker than they close them - with the added catch that if you are caught, you're deemed an enemy of the state.

If at the packet level you are simply getting a lot of resets, someone could just tweak a browser (simple packet filter) to ignore those. If it was that simple, anyone with ethereal or wireshark should have been able to pick up on this long ago.

I think this may be a good start to a long-term bypass, but there's still got to be a lot more work.




RE: So how do we work around it
By bhigh on 9/17/2007 2:08:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
If at the packet level you are simply getting a lot of resets, someone could just tweak a browser (simple packet filter) to ignore those. If it was that simple, anyone with ethereal or wireshark should have been able to pick up on this long ago.


You'd have to re-write TCP/IP to ignore the resets. Making changes to an application or server wouldn't have any effect.


RE: So how do we work around it
By Alexstarfire on 9/17/2007 2:52:19 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't think so. I'd think that at worst you'd have a medium set up, hardware, for the packets to run through and you could sort them out that way.

Either way, I doubt it's that simple.

Wonder if people in China can load this page?


RE: So how do we work around it
By carage on 9/18/2007 3:54:03 AM , Rating: 2
I'm in Shanghai now, and I can view this page with no problems.


RE: So how do we work around it
By Hare on 9/17/2007 3:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
It's pretty simple actually

a) Use a web proxy (Tor etc. not sure if this works)
b) Use a VPN connection (end of tunnel outside China)
c) N+1 others

The great firewall of China only blocks the most trivial attempts to access forbidden content. Computer savvy persons can quite easily go around the firewall.


By lukasbradley on 9/17/2007 4:47:16 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just use HTTPS?


RE: So how do we work around it
By jak3676 on 9/17/2007 7:14:15 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure they have most of the common tor servers blocked (or heavily monitored). Only your communication from you to the first tor server is encrypted, after that it's in the clear. As with anything else, once it got real popular you started to see some people/governments/agencies manipulating things for their own purposes.


RE: So how do we work around it
By carage on 9/18/2007 3:54:56 AM , Rating: 2
Tor doesn't work here.


Freedom of speech
By Misty Dingos on 9/17/2007 2:28:42 PM , Rating: 5
If socialism and communism are such great steps forward for all of mankind and the inevitable end result of the workers revolution, why do they not let the people speak? Why do they stifle communication?

Would not the average John Doe of China be the best example of the equality and liberty that one hundred years of socialism and communism have worked so hard to produce?

Or could it be that all that one hundred years of communism has produced is a body count that defies reason. That people really don’t want to live under the thumb of an oppressive government that views them as nothing more than chattel to be used and disposed of at the will and whim of the ruling class.




RE: Freedom of speech
By Treckin on 9/17/07, Rating: 0
RE: Freedom of speech
By Misty Dingos on 9/17/2007 5:16:20 PM , Rating: 5
How many people did the Maoist revolution kill? How many were killed during the Cultural revolution? How many were killed in Tiananmen Square?

And the Communist Party runs China. There are no opposition parties. Not because they are so happy and filled with the fulfilled joy of socialism. No because the government will not allow it. I don't know what you would call it but I call a government like that a doctorial regime.

Swedes, Swiss, Canadians and all of the rest of the neo-socialist democracies are fully free to change their governments and to travel, assemble and speak as they wish. Not the Chinese.

The status of China in the world today. Easy. The most dangerous regime in Asia. With over a billion oppressed citizens. Devoid of even the most basic human rights. No free speech, no free assembly, no right to self determination. Need I go on?


RE: Freedom of speech
By jak3676 on 9/17/2007 7:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
Just to be clear socialism != communism. One is a form of government and the other is a economic system. In the US we often mistakenly use the two interchangably, but they are not the same thing.

China is not exactly Marxist communist country, but neither was the USSR. For that matter the US isn't exactly a Jeffersonian democracy.

In most western countries we talk about capitalism and socialism, but in every case its actually some blend in between the two.

One of my favorite quotes from JFK is that "Democracy may not be perfect, but we've never had to build a wall to keep our people in." He was talking about the Berlin wall in Germany, but I'd say it applies to China's firewall just as well.


RE: Freedom of speech
By Redofrac on 9/17/07, Rating: -1
Communism
By oTAL on 9/18/2007 5:36:54 AM , Rating: 2
Although people in the US are taught that communism is evil and the reds eat little children for breakfast, communism is actually a very beautiful ideal. The problem is that it is flawed due to human nature.

If you do not reward people for working hard, they will not do it. If you do not treat people differently according to their accomplishments, very few will feel compelled to accomplish anything. Vietnam experienced that change recently, when they privatized farms, and agricultural productivity skyrocketed.

If we were highly evolved and giving creatures communism would work. We are not, and communism will not work in any community with over a few hundred individuals.

Nevertheless, I had a revelation in a recent conversation with some friends. Communism as it should be exists. Communism as can be successfully applied to human society consists of levelling the initial playing field for everyone – giving a broader meaning to “All men are created equal”.

It exists in this form in Northern European countries. It is not perfect and it has its flaws, but the general idea works, and works pretty well. Everyone is given many possibilities to study, learn, and improve oneself. Everyone has close to equal opportunities to succeed in life. No one is forced to take those chances and they can be squandered…

Once you grow up you are thrown to life. Some succeed and some don’t. Those who succeed in life are heavily taxed. They are paying for the education and opportunities of the next generation to come. They will never get to be as rich as one can be in the US, but their money is being invested into their children. They are giving back what was given to them and they are paying a tax on their own success.

The fact that those who squander their chances pay few taxes while those who actually made themselves into something are “punished” with heavy taxing may seem unfair to some, but there is no such thing as perfection…

There will always be varying opinions and some of you will obviously disagree with this form of government due to it being overall less efficient/productive than the US system. Nevertheless, I like this form of government and if I had to choose a country in which I was to be born on a random family, I’d choose between Norway, Sweden and Finland… although I hate the weather around there!

Will I get a -1 rating from all the proud patriots around or will I get different constructive opinions arguing against mine?

Cheers,
Nuno




RE: Communism
By Misty Dingos on 9/18/2007 11:17:14 AM , Rating: 2
While in general people in the US have a negative view of communism I don’t ever remember anyone telling me that they eat their or anybodies babies. I wouldn’t be surprised though. ;)

Speaking for myself when I first studied communism I thought that it did have several redeeming points in its favor. The ones that you covered, including a “level playing field”. But as you pointed out communism does not work in a vacuum of human foibles.

It relies on the benevolent nature of man. Problem there is that not everyone has a benevolent nature. Which is the problem with all utopian ideals; unless everyone has the same mentality and drive they simply do not work.

The red elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about with communism is that eventually someone will come into power that will pursue the goal of power and not stewardship. And what you end up with is a dictator. Communism also only works if people’s freedoms are curtailed at some level. That is usually just enough freedom to function but not enough freedom to cause problems.

Communism also has the unintended consequence of fostering corruption. At first glance it would seem that communism would have the same level of corruption as representational democracies but because communism places so many functions of day to day living in the hands of bureaucracies that low level corruption becomes almost inevitable. Then once the bottom run bureaucrats are corrupted they take that corruption with them as they gain in position.

But since governments like the US coddle the citizens less the ability for the bureaucracy to be tainted is less. The market place being built on profit and profit being maximized by efficient effort places a self correcting mechanism in place to curtail bureaucratic corruption.

While the US has probably more than its fair share of corrupt governmental leaders but for the most part they are at the top of the pyramid, congressmen and such. And while it makes some interesting news casts they on whole don’t affect the running of the day to day operation of the functions of government. The bureaucracies are relatively corruption free and function with the normal level of government efficiency.

Communism also fosters inefficiency. With no incentive other than self motivation bureaucracies will almost always fall behind the private sector in innovation and efficiency. A great example of this is the United States Postal Service (USPS) and United Parcel Service (UPS). Both offer the same function but when asked if you could get a package across the US in a day the USPS said “No Way on earth that can be done.” UPS has made billions doing exactly that.

I would go as far as privatizing all retirement payment plans, health care, primary education (grade school to college). You can enforce laws that require citizens to attend school to a certain level and once employed to set aside a certain portion of their income to a retirement account. I fail to see how the government involving itself in this process improves it in any way. And these are functions of society that could benefit greatly from efficiency and innovation.

Is the playing field level? No and no matter what government you have it never will be because people are not all the same. Fairness is a falsehood. It doesn’t exist anymore than our utopian dreams. To think differently is self deception.


RE: Communism
By Nanobaud on 9/18/2007 12:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
communism also only works if people’s freedoms are curtailed at some level. That is usually just enough freedom to function but not enough freedom to cause problems.


as opposed to ???


RE: Communism
By Pythias on 9/18/2007 12:50:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Communism also has the unintended consequence of fostering corruption. At first glance it would seem that communism would have the same level of corruption as representational democracies but because communism places so many functions of day to day living in the hands of bureaucracies that low level corruption becomes almost inevitable. Then once the bottom run bureaucrats are corrupted they take that corruption with them as they gain in position.


Precisely. Power corrupts and the more agencies we we authorize, the more power government has.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a government agency.

quote:
Is the playing field level? No and no matter what government you have it never will be because people are not all the same. Fairness is a falsehood. It doesn’t exist anymore than our utopian dreams. To think differently is self deception


Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron comes to mind for some reason.


But but...
By FITCamaro on 9/17/2007 1:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
China is this great country that we should throw all our money and manufacturing capability into because they give so much back to the rest of the world in return.




RE: But but...
By jak3676 on 9/17/2007 1:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
And their labor is so cheap - who really cares if your computer maintains a hardcoded backdoor for Chinese control - I'm sure they would only ever use those things for purely benovolent acts!

links anyone?


RE: But but...
By SandmanWN on 9/18/2007 11:03:07 AM , Rating: 1
Lead Paint... The gift that keeps on giving.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov











botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki