Indian net service providers too play #censorship tricks


T. Ramachandran,KOCHI, February 9, 2013

The study by a Canadian university has found that some major Indian ISPs have deployed web-censorship and filtering technology.

Your internet service provider (ISP) could be blocking some content. A study conducted by a Canadian university has found that some major Indian ISPs have deployed web-censorship and filtering technology widely used in China and some West Asian countries.

The findings, published on January 15, were the result of a search for censorship software and hardware on public networks like those operated by ISPs.

A research team at Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, found a software-hardware combo package called PacketShaper being used in many parts of the world, including India.

The study identified the presence of four PacketShaper installations on the networks of three major ISPs in India during the period of study in late 2012. These ISPs had been earlier “implicated in filtering to some degree,” the report said.

The deployment of such traffic management technologies by ISPs could threaten privacy, freedom of expression and competition, said Sunil Abraham, Executive Director of the Bangalore-based NGO, Centre for Internet and Society.

He said tools like PacketShaper could be used by ISPs for two types of censorship —“to block entire websites or choke traffic on certain services or destinations in a highly granular fashion.”

The U.S.-based producers of the technology, Blue Coat Systems, are quite open about the product features on the company’s website. They say it could be used to control and weed out undesirable content. It could also be used to slow down or speed up the operation of programmes and content flow to achieve the goals set by the operators of the networks.

Transparency is the key

Technology experts said such products could be used to exercise legitimate control over the internet traffic and prioritise the use of bandwidth and resources, if used ethically.

“If done in a transparent manner that does not discriminate against different actors within a class it does benefit the collective interest of the ISP’s clients. However, it could also be used to engage in hidden censorship against legitimate speech and also for anti-competitive behaviour,” said Mr. Abraham.

The study focussed on countries where concerns exist over “compliance with international human rights law, legal due process, freedom of speech, surveillance, and censorship.”

Anti-censorship software compromised with spyware

Popular Iranian proxy software found to include Trojan that reports user data

Tags: Cyber crime,  Iran,  Malware,  Syria

Anti-censorship software compromised with spywareA compromised version of the Simurgh proxy has been sending user data to a remote site registered with a Saudi ISP.
By Mark SuttonPublished June 3, 2012

A popular web proxy in use by Iranians and Syrians to bypass web censorship has been compromised, according researchers at the University of Toronto.

The Iranian-developed Simurgh standalone proxy, has been widely used in Iran to bypass web censorship and to allow the user to browse anonymously, but in compromised versions downloaded from the 4Shared file sharing service, an additional Trojan has been added to steal user data.

Security researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire, wrote in a blog post: “This Trojan has been specifically crafted to target people attempting to evade government censorship. Given the intended purpose of this software, users must be very careful if they have been infected by this Trojan”

The university researchers discovered the back door after making a closer examination of Simurgh as it has been growing in popularity among Syrians. The Trojan includes a keystroke logger, and appears to be sending data via HTTP post request to a remote site registered with a Saudi Arabian ISP.

Researchers say most anti-virus software should detect the Trojan, but if a user does detect an infection, they should assume that any sensitive data and accounts accessed via that PC may have been compromised and users should change passwords. The Simurgh website is also warning users to check their PCs.


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