Syria's brutal Assad government uses censorware from California's Blue Coat System as part of its systematic suppression of dissent and to help it spy on dissidents; 600GB of 2011 logs from Syria's seven SG-9000 internet proxies were leaked by hacktivist group Telecomix and then analyzed by University College London's Emiliano De Cristofaro.
The appliances were sometimes misconfigured, meaning the filter caused some collateral damage – for instance, all requests with the keyword "proxy" were blocked, probably in an effort to curb the use of censorship-evading proxies, but this also had the effect of blocking adverts and certain plug-ins that had no relation to banned content.
We found that Syrian users did try to get around the filters, using tools such as Tor, or virtual private networks (encrypted tunnels between two computers using the public internet), and that these were fairly effective. We also noticed that some tools not necessarily designed with circumventing censorship in mind could also be used to access blocked content – for example using peer-to-peer programs such as BitTorrent to download blocked software (such as Skype) and using Google Cache to access (over HTTPS) cached and mirrored versions of blocked web pages.
Lessons On Censorship From Syria's Internet Filter Machines [Emiliano De Cristofaro/Techdirt]
(Thumbnail: CAT5 Cable, nrkbeta, CC-BY-SA)
A quirk of British rail history left 4,555 railway arches in public ownership through National Rail, and these commercial spaces are that most rare of British commodities: publicly owned, reasonably priced commercial spaces that welcome quirky industries and small businesses that are the nation's only respite from endlessly homogenised high-streets sporting the same fast food […]
Last month, the legendary hardware hacker and entrepreneur Andrew "bunnie" Huang (who is also a talented science communicator) published a great explainer on the quirks of the Trump China tariff plan, which exempts finished goods (like TVs), but imposes stiff taxes on components that are shipped from China to US factories for final assembly, a […]
Silicon Valley’s War on Walls has declared its first casualties according to a new study in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Those casualties are workplace interaction and productivity.
Summer’s here, which brings not only warmer weather but also the unsettling realization that the year is more than halfway over. So, for those who weren’t as productive as they would have liked during the first half of 2018, we’ve rounded up 5 skill course bundles you can start learning today to help you finish […]
It’s good to be proactive, but when it comes to preparing for an emergency situation, one of the most important items you can pack is a flashlight. After all, whatever else you include in your kit won’t be of much use if you can’t see what you’re doing. The Viper 1000-Lumen Tactical Flashlights not only […]
Chances are you took a handful of language classes in high school, and aside from a smattering of conjugations and vocabulary words, the only things you likely remember are the dry, rehearsed sentences that did little to make you speak like a true native. If you’re still hoping to learn a new language but want […]