Is China establishing cyber sovereignty in the United States?

Last week Twitter came under attack from a DDoS attack orchestrated by the Chinese authorities. While such attacks are not uncommon for websites like Twitter, this one proved unusual. While the Chinese authorities use the Great Firewall to block harmful content from reaching its citizens, it now uses DDoS attacks to take down content that appears on websites beyond its borders. For the Chinese authorities, it is not simply good enough to “protect” the interests of Chinese citizens at home - in their view of cyber sovereignty, any content that might harm China’s interests must be removed, regardless of where the website is located.

And so last week the Chinese authorities determined that Twitter was the target. In particular, the authorities targeted the Twitter account for Guo Wengui (https://twitter.com/KwokMiles), the rebel billionaire who is slowly leaking information about corrupt Chinese government officials via his Twitter account and through his YouTube videos. Guo appeared to ramp up his whistle-blowing efforts last week and the Chinese authorities, in turn, ramped up theirs.

via https://twitter.com/KwokMiles/status/863689935798374401

No details have emerged on attacks against his YouTube channel, but Guo did share tweets about the attack on his Twitter account, including unverified correspondence from a Twitter engineer. (We reached out to Twitter for comment but have not heard back from them at the time of publication.) In this correspondence, the engineer details the measures that Twitter had to take to thwart the attack, including adding hundreds of servers, blocking IP addresses from China and redirecting traffic from the desktop Twitter site to the mobile site. The engineer expresses surprise at the scale and the force of the attack. Users who were logged into Twitter could still view Guo’s account. However, those who were not logged in only saw an error page. Late last week, the attack subsided and Guo’s account returned to normal.

via https://twitter.com/KwokMiles/status/863689004390260736

This is not the first time that the Chinese authorities have flooded websites with unwanted traffic as a means of taking them offline. In March 2015, GreatFire came under a similar attack. Citizen Lab subsequently coined the weapon the Great Cannon.

Since March 2015, it is unknown how many times the Chinese authorities have launched similar attacks against foreign websites. But this attack gives us a clearer idea of China’s vision of cyber sovereignty. Chinese censorship efforts have escalated in a way that destroys the traditional narrative surrounding Chinese information control. This new style of attack also makes it harder to detect Chinese censorship efforts.

China is now not simply content with blocking foreign websites. It is almost certain that the blocking of Twitter’s live streaming app Periscope last week was related to these attempts to silence Guo Wengui. The blocking of websites in China is so commonplace now that the censorship of Periscope barely registered. Now nobody is surprised when a website gets blocked and this blasé reaction is playing directly into the hands of the Chinese authorities. Website blocks are now seen as boring and simply part of China’s continuing effort to establish cyber sovereignty.

But this non-reaction to Chinese censorship is helping to pave the way for a new breed of Chinese censorship. Why is nobody outraged that China is attacking Twitter and other foreign websites? When did it become okay for the Chinese authorities to establish cyber sovereignty in other parts of the world? It is understandable that Twitter may not want to draw attention to this episode (lest they encourage others to launch similar attacks) but why is there no public outcry otherwise? Is everybody trying to curry favour with the Chinese authorities? Does nobody want to wake the sleeping dragon?

Most importantly, why is there no retaliation? Tit-for-tat cyber attacks are not optimal but surely the US government should have a vested interest in making sure that American companies do not get sabotaged by foreign powers. At the very least, the current President should be alarmed that his preferred communications medium is under threat. While Obama and Xi agreed to lay off economic cyber espionage, why are China’s attempts to take a hostile Twitter account offline and the blocking of the company’s sister property not considered to be economic “dirty tricks”? How much longer are we going to continue to tolerate the aggression of the Chinese authorities in cyberspace?

 

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星期一, 12月 12, 2016

面对中国,Google 还打算终结网络审查吗?

三年前,施密特宣布谷歌将在十年内终结网络审查。当时我在卫报发表文章,批评谷歌的时程太长,并指出他们其实有可能在十天内达成目标。

星期四, 11月 24, 2016

Facebook: Please, not like this

Facebook is considering launching a censorship tool that would enable the world’s biggest social network to “enter” the China market. Sadly, nobody will be surprised by anything that Mark Zuckerberg decides to do in order to enter the China market. With such low expectations, Facebook is poised to usurp Apple as China’s favorite foreign intelligence gathering partner. If the company launches in China using this strategy they will also successfully erase any bargaining power that other media organizations may hold with the Chinese authorities.

星期二, 7月 05, 2016

GreatFire.org 现在开始测试VPN在中国的速度和稳定性

在中国有一个普遍观念,如果你有一个可以使用的VPN,那么你应该保持沉默。就信息自由而言,这种观念的问题在于获取知识竟成了一种秘密。今天,我们推出一个项目,希望能够摧毁这种模型。

我们最新的网站,翻墙中心,目的在于实时提供那些能够在中国使用的翻墙方案的信息和数据。在2011年以来我们就已经开始收集在中国被屏蔽的网站,现在我们也将增加那些可用的VPN和其他翻墙工具。

我们发布翻墙中心主要有四个目的。

我们的首要目标是助长使用翻墙工具的国人的数量。通过分享我们这些工具的信息和数据,我们希望对更广泛的受众展示那些工具时可以使用的。

我们的第二个目标是通过带来工具性能的透明化来提升中国用户的翻墙体验。我们将会测试工具的速度(流行网站的加载速度)和稳定性(流行网站加载成功的程度)。

我们开发速度测试的目的是要真实反映用户的体验。当用户在网站测速时,浏览器在后台会从10个世界上最流行的网站上下载一些资源文件。根据Alexa排名,这些网站分别是Google, Facebook, YouTube, Baidu, Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia, QQ, Twitter and Microsoft Live。速度的结果是简单的计算下载文件文件的大小和下载所需的时间。我们同样也会验证下载的文件是否完整。如果文件的内容是错误的或者在40秒内无法完成下载,我们会标记为失败。这个数据被我们用来生成另一个重要指标-稳定性。

其他的速度测试工具仅仅是通过发送数据到它们自己的服务器来测量上传和下载的速度。这种数据无法反应用户的体验,因为正常的浏览器通常会频繁的发送一系列的请求(而不是上传或下载一个大文件)到许多的服务器,而不止是一个。

我们的第二个指标 - 稳定性 - 是其他的服务通常不会测试的。一个健康的互联网连接应该达到100%的稳定性,除非有人在测试中把网线拔了。但是在中国使用翻墙工具却不是这样。任何时候连接都有可能变得不稳定或十分缓慢。根据请求的大小,最终的地点和代理的方式,一些请求有可能会失败。比较服务的稳定性要比比较速度更加重要。

你可以测试任意的翻墙工具,列表之外的也可以。中国的VPN用户也可以测试他们的工具,测试结果也会添加到数据库中。这些数据都将会对所有人开放。实时的在中国测试是非常重要的,因为VPN随时都可能被封锁或解封。我们欢迎任何的关于测试过程的反馈。有技术能力的用户也可以通过审查我们的javascript代码来获悉我们的测试是如何工作的。

我们郑重的邀请翻墙工具的开发者们向我们提供测试过程的反馈。我们的第三个目标是帮助这些开发人员改进他们的产品,让更多的选择适用于中国的顾客。此外,越多的工具可以工作,就意味着中国当局对翻墙的打击就会越难。

中国的用户都知道,在过去的18个月中当局加紧了对翻墙工具的攻击。而翻墙中心将会吹响反击的号角。反其道而行之,让这不再成为秘密。我们要鼓励人们分享翻墙工具可以工作的信息。

我们的第四个目标就是要为GreatFire.org创造收益。目前GreatFire仍然依靠世界各地的热心人士和组织的捐款。我们希望减少对这些机构的依赖,并探寻GreatFire.org自给自足的道路。用户只需到翻墙中心就能购买任意一款我们目前在测试的付费工具。GreatFire将作为这些工具在中国的经销商,因此VPN供应商会给予我们每个零售的一部分。用户也不必在中国购买这些翻墙服务。

星期六, 5月 07, 2016

The New York Times vs. The Chinese Authorities

Could the New York Times be setting the best path forward for news organizations in China?

星期四, 2月 18, 2016

From the desk of Lu Wei: Apple, encryption and China

Lu Wei, Director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, offers some friendly help to FBI Director James Comey.
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China has long defended its right to impose own standards in cyber fields such as censorship, data privacy and business regulation in the name of national security. The new policy paper effectively codified the Communist Party leadership's claim that countries should wield sovereign authority over all cyber-related matters within their territory.

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"Guo Wengui - the rebel billionaire who is slowly leaking information about corrupt Chinese government" If the information is wrong, why don't just report his account, or...? This is not a right way to treat rumor, or it's not rumors anymore Yooying

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