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Internet Censorship Arms Race Gets New Weapon From Georgia Tech

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the encode-it-in-your-drawlings dept.

Privacy 75

coondoggie writes "Trying to get out in front of what they call a censorship arms race, a team of researchers has come up with technology that lets users exchange messages through heavily censored networks in countries such as China and North Korea in hidden channels via user-generated content sites such as Twitter or Flickr. Researchers with the Georgia Tech School of Computer Science will demo the technology known as Collage for the first time at next month's Usenix security conference and ideally have a working package the public can download by the end of August."

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These collages just don't get it. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856430)

Working on packages at unisex conferences isn't the only way to get a head.

I don't think this really solves anything. (4, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856442)

China's censor ship is designed to prevent people from openly sharing content that they don't want shared. Communications between two people who have an existing relationship and a desire to exchange information is always going to be possible through a variety of methods. This doesn't change that.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (2, Informative)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856574)

I agree with you but at least it gets people thinking in the right direction. In my opinion and in anyones opinion the main roadblock is inability to find the access points. So its not difficult for a group of friends to agree to go to a specific site at a specific time and just one of them posts the access point and now they all have it. In fact it could be put up in an IRC chat or anywhere really.

So no this doesn't really make a big difference practically speaking but it does help China to beef up their censorship now that China knows whats coming next.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857116)

at least it gets people thinking in the right direction

And that direction is the opposite of anywhere that would seek to limit the free exchange of information, whether by heavy-handed government fiat or by para-legal "intellectual property" laws.

I hope to see a new arms race, between China, who wants to subvert the West's system of intellectual property and the US, that seeks to subvert China's limitation on open communications. It's the only kind of arms race where the rest of us win.

I'm afraid that the opposite is going to happen though: China will become more compliant to the US' corporate information lockdown and the US will become more tolerant of China's heavy hand. Both governments ultimately want the same thing: a weak and malleable work'n'consume force that will keep the corporations rich and the ownership elite richer, while not expecting too much and not threatening the hegemony of the monied. Good shoppers who will calmly strive for a lifestyle that is just out of reach so they can't make any lifestyle choices that would threaten the system.

At least the people in the Matrix had a nice dream. Our future is more along the lines of Metropolis only with large-screen TVs bought on credit.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857592)

at least it gets people thinking in the right direction

And that direction is the opposite of anywhere that would seek to limit the free exchange of information, whether by heavy-handed government fiat or by para-legal "intellectual property" laws.

I hope to see a new arms race, between China, who wants to subvert the West's system of intellectual property and the US, that seeks to subvert China's limitation on open communications. It's the only kind of arms race where the rest of us win.

I'm afraid that the opposite is going to happen though: China will become more compliant to the US' corporate information lockdown and the US will become more tolerant of China's heavy hand. Both governments ultimately want the same thing: a weak and malleable work'n'consume force that will keep the corporations rich and the ownership elite richer, while not expecting too much and not threatening the hegemony of the monied. Good shoppers who will calmly strive for a lifestyle that is just out of reach so they can't make any lifestyle choices that would threaten the system.

At least the people in the Matrix had a nice dream. Our future is more along the lines of Metropolis only with large-screen TVs bought on credit.

Yeah but what they want and what they'll get are two different things. I'm sure the money elites didn't want the economy to melt down but it has. Now all their plans are ruined. It's simply impossible to continue with business as usual, something will change or we will sink into a global depression and we wont get out of that until something changes.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (2, Informative)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#32858208)

"Yeah but what they want and what they'll get are two different things. I'm sure the money elites didn't want the economy to melt down but it has. Now all their plans are ruined. It's simply impossible to continue with business as usual, something will change or we will sink into a global depression and we wont get out of that until something changes."

I don't see many of them out on the street. From where I'm standing, the wealthy elite are doing just fine right now, even with the crap economy. Of course, from where I'm standing, the reason our crap economy is crap is that the wealthy elite drained the rest of us dry... we gave them everything they asked for, on the premise that it would all "trickle down", only to find that money ignores gravity.

Thats not generally what happens. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32859602)

"Yeah but what they want and what they'll get are two different things. I'm sure the money elites didn't want the economy to melt down but it has. Now all their plans are ruined. It's simply impossible to continue with business as usual, something will change or we will sink into a global depression and we wont get out of that until something changes."

I don't see many of them out on the street. From where I'm standing, the wealthy elite are doing just fine right now, even with the crap economy. Of course, from where I'm standing, the reason our crap economy is crap is that the wealthy elite drained the rest of us dry... we gave them everything they asked for, on the premise that it would all "trickle down", only to find that money ignores gravity.

There wont be rich elites out on the streets. Thats not what is going to happen. What is going to happen is they'll try to build lots of prisons to put poor people in there rather than extend unemployment benefits or pay for welfare. This will end up costing them more than if they just gave them the benefits. Then they'll have to deal with the growth of organized crime, terrorism, and others who will target them and their turf. As the middle class shrinks and ceases to exist, civil unrest will grow until the USA as a country is as corrupt as Mexico.

I suppose if someone is rich and elite and does not care about America at all, they obviously wont care about the current situation. But if you have to live in this country and you care about the next 50 years, then something has to be done. None of the solutions are easy, none of the solutions will be cheap.

The source of the problem is that we have more people than we have jobs. We have too many people on planet earth and not enough jobs for them all. And as computers, machines and robots become more sophisticated then we need less and less people. There is no reason to maintain a high birthrate in the USA. There is no reason to maintain the inflated dollar as this just guarantees a high cost of living which increases the likelihood of crime and punishment.

What I expect the rich elite to do is build lots of prisons, create lots of laws, and put poor people in there. That is the simple yet stupid solution I expect them to choose. It's not a long term solution because theres 6 billion people on the earth and the people in the USA whom they put in prison may have offspring who now will be more likely to commit crime and they will have to be put in prison in a lot of instances too. So you create a prison cycle which is not all that different from the welfare cycle.

Why is prison and welfare necessary? The cost of living is artificially kept high. The job growth is artificially kept low. This means you have millions of unemployed people, and their numbers increase every year as the cost of living continues to rise and people continue to be born. This is going to lead to not just a national crisis but a global crisis.

It's actually so bad now that the rich elite don't even want to hire enough cops to protect them.And it's also so bad because when they do hire cops they don't want to pay them very well, and lets be honest, very few people are willing to risk their lives for less than middle class pay. So even if they build more prisons and hire more cops it's going to cost a lot of money and it wont be taken from the middle class because soon there will be no middle class.

I expect the middle class to still exist but it's going to shrink. It's going to consist of professionals, of law enforcement, of lawyers, of doctors, of the career military men. I expect that the military will be the primary path to reaching the middle class. I expect a college degree to decrease in worth and importance unless it's in law enforcement, lawyer, doctor, MBA. This means that college will still be important but only if you plan to stay in college for 6 to 8 years and spend an obscene amount of money.

The jobs will still exist for individuals willing to risk their life, for individuals who are extremely dedicated and willing to pay an obscenely high price, but there will be no easy path to the middle class ever again. That era is permanently over. I also think the "hard work pays" era is permanently over. There is no way you'll ever work harder than a machine or computer, so at this point working hard does not pay.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32859058)

Now all their plans are ruined.

Not at all. It's the Shock Doctrine.

Corporations are still making a profit. Lots of shares bought and sold on Wall Street. Big companies are getting bigger by the day, eating the smaller.

I don't think their plans are ruined, I think their plans are coming to fruition.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32859482)

Now all their plans are ruined.

Not at all. It's the Shock Doctrine.

Corporations are still making a profit. Lots of shares bought and sold on Wall Street. Big companies are getting bigger by the day, eating the smaller.

I don't think their plans are ruined, I think their plans are coming to fruition.

What happens during an inflationary depression?

You have a situation where dollars aren't buying what they used to buy and aren't worth what they once were. This means the only way out of this situation is to raise taxes and deflate the dollar, the rich elite don't want to see the dollar deflated but everybody else does.

This is not good for the rich elite because the entire world is in a depression because of what they wont do policywise. There also is no easy way out of it so the depression is set to get worse and worse until they make concessions.

You can say they don't care that it's a depression but when you have a depression corruption increases and war becomes much more likely, it also means they'll have to be taxed because there wont be anyone else left to tax to pay for it. Sure they could try taxing the poor bnt that wont work forever. I would say the rich elite are in the worst position right now.

What the rich elite are trying to say is that we are in a slight recession and entering a recovery phase. They are saying because GDP is growing that the recession is officially over. The rich elite are the only ones who care about GDP. The rest of the world is looking at job growth as the indication of the state of the economy, along with other indicators. According to the job growth indicator we are in a depression, and the scary part about it is these jobs are never coming back, and we are never again going to have more jobs than we have people unless we make extreme changes.

This means outsourcing and immigration are only temporary problems. Machines and robots will be bigger problems which will take away even more jobs however the dollar and cost of living still are way too high. To put it simply, it cannot last. The end result is going to be tens of millions of prisoners, or tens of millions without jobs living on welfare, unless something is done to change that path.

And no increased spending wont get us out of it because the dollar is inflated.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (1)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856744)

Now I get it. China employs a fleet of censor ships to enforce an information embargo. On itself.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856810)

Now I get it. China employs a fleet of censor ships to enforce an information embargo. On itself.

But... HOW do they sail past the Great Fire Wall?

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857148)

they are the great fire/sea wall it also explains the random holes

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (4, Interesting)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856898)

In fact, if you can and prefer reading and writing English, then you can access to most information that are otherwise blocked. The Chinese government worries about the poor people. If you can and prefer reading English, you are likely well educated with some financial resources -- you are the successful ones in their society and you are not going to try hard to subvert it. The biggest problem in China is still poverty.

Neither they care any fringe way to bypass their censor, because they worry about mass unrest. For example, while you can't go to YouTube, you can go to other sites for video because not many people even know those small sites. Once the site becomes popular, it will be blocked.

Unless this technology can be shown to have a chance to become very popular and it still can't be blocked when it is very popular, it is not a relevant censor-bypassing technology.

Re:I don't think this really solves anything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32867746)

All aboard the censor ship. *toot toot*

So it's using Stenography (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856446)

This sounds like a revolution, but its been in use for a long time. Did they just make software that looks for key phrases?

Terrorists! (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856464)

These terrorists won't be allowed to get away this, trading chlid porn over Twitter and Flickr and what not. Won't someone think of the children?

Thats why the darknet is the answer. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856556)

If the access points to the darknet are kept secret, Alice and Bob remain safe from Mallory, Eve, even Gordon if trust is absolute between Alice and Bob it is an unbreakable chain. It's the basis behind PGP's web of trust protocol.

Re:Terrorists! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32857654)

Some day soon, America will be claiming it's the safest "democracy" in the world.

Re:Terrorists! (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857856)

That's why its restricted to 150 characters.

Ah... (4, Insightful)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856476)

Collage's success lies on a censor's unwillingness to block large quantities of legitimate content.

As we all know, the definition of "legitimate" varies from totalitarian regime to totalitarian regime, and also depends on what the leaders want the public to see and how badly something like this needs to be blocked.

Re:Ah... (1)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856728)

Great, we got trolled by a moderator who decided it would be fun to mod all the top posts Redundant. =/

Re:Ah... (2, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857452)

Exactly. Just about the only legitimate content one could more or less safely hide behind is communication that is vital for business and international finance.

The government of China is all too willing to block Google over failing to censor certain search results - why would they have qualms about blocking Flickr if it is being used for spreading "subversive" content?

Is it just me? (0, Redundant)

Some.Net(Guy) (1733146) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856482)

Am I the only one who read "Usenix security conference" as "Unisex security conference" ?

Re:Is it just me? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856632)

Am I the only one who read "Usenix security conference" as "Unisex security conference" ?

yes you are the only one with the reading comprehension skills equal to the average ghetto nigger. now please fuck off, this i-can't-read joke was never funny

Re:Is it just me? (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32860664)

Am I the only one who read "Usenix security conference" as "Unisex security conference" ?

Same here.

I think they choose that name on purpose :-)

If it involves steganography it's useless now (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856516)

If it involves steganography it's useless now.

Because now China, North Korea and Australia know to look for it.
They'd have been better off releasing this at a hacker convention than to do it through university channels. Don't you think they (the Chinese) keep track of it?

To win this sort of arms race, you need secret weaponry. You cannot announce it to the global media before it's finished or too soon because whatever vulnerability it exploits will be fixed soon later and then what would the purpose be?

On the other hand it's the right direction at least. Censorship can only be defeated by technology. But as this technology to beat censorship is created it will only make the censorship that much more oppressive because it will train the immune system of the censorship regime. Organized censorship almost always has more money and resources than organized resistance.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (4, Informative)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856596)

"Censorship can only be defeated by technology."

Revolution worked far better before we even had the technology we do. In fact, technology made people lazy and unwilling to fight censorship.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856602)

"Censorship can only be defeated by technology."

Revolution worked far better before we even had the technology we do. In fact, technology made people lazy and unwilling to fight censorship.

Just because you have the technology it doesnt mean you are trained to use it. Most of the time the technology isn't the problem, it's the fact that Alice can't trust Bob.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857176)

Revolution worked far better before we even had the technology we do.

You took the words out of my mouth. Censorship can only be defeated by a non-compliant citizenry willing to sacrifice comfort for freedom. Technology is just a tool, like a bomb or a gun, or a printing press, to use against repressive regimes.

And let's not forget the kind of censorship that's employed by corporations that would use patents and copyrights to enforce their power. Like a corporation that would seek to patent, say, the turning of a virtual page. Last week when the direct attacks against Creative Commons and the EFF started, the scales fell from my eyes. I finally realized that they're not just trying to protect their own "intellectual property", they want a monopoly on ALL intellectual property. They want to have a monopoly on all information, on all culture, on every product of human intellect.

That's when I realized the Pirate Party was the only political group I could possibly support going forward.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32857498)

Censorship can only be defeated by a non-compliant citizenry willing to sacrifice comfort for freedom.

If by "sacrifice comfort" you mean "face an almost certain death", then yes.

I have a hard time believing Kim Jong Il would hesitate on turning that army of his against it's own people if they got too rambunctious.

In this scenario, the people with the technology

I think the parent meant (2, Insightful)

nu1x (992092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857620)

USA, not China/NK.

For the worst, and most importantly, trend-setting shit happens in USA.

Trend-setting for China and like.

But more importantly, also us western people (I am european).

So, pirate party.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862960)

You took the words out of my mouth. Censorship can only be defeated by a non-compliant citizenry willing to sacrifice comfort for freedom.

Non-compliant citizens don't have drivers, no technical support, and anyone dealing with them is very likely a victim of a scam.
I would strongly suggest keeping away from them.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32859192)

Revolution worked far better before the censors had the technology to detect any notion of rebellion before it even leaves the drunken party it was conceived at. How do you start a revolution when everyone is a potential agent of the thought police and the enemy's response time is measured in minutes?

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856680)

Encrypt the message first, then use steganography to insert it into cartoons of kim jung il making out with julia gillard.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856756)

Encrypt the message first, then use steganography to insert it into cartoons of kim jung il making out with julia gillard.

And when the gov knows and knocks on your door asking you about it?

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856832)

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32858730)

So sick of that XKCD, there is this amazing thing called plausible deniability [wikipedia.org] . It's been around for years.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857144)

And when the gov knows and knocks on your door asking you about it?

"Rubber hose cryptography".

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (4, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857132)

If it involves steganography it's useless now. Because now China, North Korea and Australia know to look for it.

I wonder if the Aussie people and the Aussie government realize just what a condemnation of what they have become this is... to be legitimately and accurately grouped with the likes of China, North Korea, Iran, and Myanmar over a basic human rights and civil liberties issue.

The government for what it does to its citizens.
The people for tolerating it.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857330)

They'd have been better off releasing this at a hacker convention than to do it through university channels. Don't you think they (the Chinese) keep track of it?

The hacker convention - like most such affairs - might as well book the Holiday Inn at Fort Meade. The National Cryptologic Museum - a hop, skip and jump away from NSA Headquarters - is fun for older kids and they even have a gift shop.

Re:If it involves steganography it's useless now (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32864378)

Done well, steganography actually cannot be detected. In fact, even if you know it's there AND can decrypt it, you still can't absolutely PROVE that it's not just an artifact of a crafted decryption key.

Darknets are the only way to go. (4, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856540)

Darknets are the best way to beat censorship. This does not mean providing tools to hide the data on known sites. That's not going to be good enough. A darknet means having a secret internet within the internet itself accessed by a covert channel. The channel could be hidden by steganography but the channel is just an access point. This could be the seed nodes to freenet. This could be the seednodes to a series of proxies to bounce the information from point A to point B.

Alice and Bob both want to communicate but they don't want to be discovered by Mallory or by Eve. So they both have a shared secret and that secret is the access point to the darknet. As long as this access point remains secret Mallory and Eve do not know it exists. The access point could be contained via steganography within an image. Inside the image would be IP addresses to the secret proxies or connection points to the darknet which could be Freenet. The traffic would look like browing lolcats or 4chan, just looking at pictures but it wouldn't display pictures on Alice or Bob's sites, it would display something else.

Technically it's not all that difficult in theory. In practice is a different story. First of all Alice has to be able to trust Bob enough to give the access point. The access point is the secret and once smoeone enters the darknet they can stay in it via a web of trust. It's not all that different from PGP where Alice vouches for Bob, so Bob is invited into the darknet. Now Bob can see whats going on and if Bob posts then Bob wins the opportunity to invite someone into the darknet. You could have websites like https://www.slashdot.dark/ [slashdot.dark] instead of .com which can ONLY be accessed by individuals who not only have the right seed nodes but authentication from the web of trust.

The friend to friend model is proven to be the most secure way to do it. And really if you are in China going up against the government it's the only way to do it.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (2, Informative)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856626)

What about i2p [wikimedia.org] ? I think you can use it to route just about any traffic, from web browsing to email to IM to IRC.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856742)

How does I2P compare with TOR?

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856762)

I2P is nice but isn't it written in Java? I suppose it's part of the ideal system but thats not the issue. The issue is getting into the darknet without being detected. If you download I2P then it's too late, you are detected.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32857062)

I fail to see what 'written in Java' has got to do with anything, but yes, it is written in java.

The simple way of circumventing surveillance targetting people downloading I2P is either to do it via a number of proxies, or through the sneakernet. Likewise, the database of initial peers is normally downloaded 'openly' when you first run your I2P router, but this can also be installed manually, with downloading done through a previously secured channel, such as a VPN, a proxy, or, again the simple sneakernet.

However, I2P traffic will still have a distinct traffic profile in most cases.

The simple way for oppressive regimes to control the internet is still via a whitelist, though, and the technology required for this to work is getting closer to reality by the day.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

PotatoFiend (1330299) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857456)

I2P is nice but isn't it written in Java?

Freenet is written in Java as well, but you didn't have any problems with that when you were recommending Freenet in your GP post.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857578)

I2P is nice but isn't it written in Java?

Freenet is written in Java as well, but you didn't have any problems with that when you were recommending Freenet in your GP post.

I don't like the fact that Freenet is written in Java either.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (3, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856788)

Alice and Bob both want to communicate but they don't want to be discovered by Mallory or by Eve

I don't know about this Bob guy. I'm thinking he doesn't want any of the women to know about the other women's access points. That way he can keep "seeing" all of them and neither will get jealous.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856802)

But it requires keeping the access point a secret. Very little stays secret forever. From moles to coercion to just plain stupid mistakes, they have ways of getting out.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856954)

But it requires keeping the access point a secret. Very little stays secret forever. From moles to coercion to just plain stupid mistakes, they have ways of getting out.

Infinite amount of potential access points. When one secret is discovered 10 more are created. It's impossible for the government to catch them all and it's not meant to stay secret forever, just long enough to connect Alice and Bob to darknet.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856846)

The problem with darknets is like you said, it requires trust. Networks based on trust can be great when they are small but end up crumbling at larger scales. How do you know that your neighbor isn't working for the government? How do you let someone in who wants to know "secrets" about China? On one hand you can't afford not letting people participate in a revolution because then the revolution will be too tiny and fail, on the other and you can't afford to let a government agent into your darknet and risk the lives of others.

This is why you need a currency based system. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856894)

Trust can be expressed by digital currency. An individual with a lot of trust has a lot of digital currency to give to individuals he or she trusts. If one or some of those individuals are found out to work for the government or suspected, then trust is lost.

Digital currency could be used to buy access to locked darknets within the darknet. This would create infinite layers to the darknet so that the most trusted are also at the deepest layers. This means Alice trusts Bob so Alice bets points on Bob. If Bob is Mallory or Gordon, Alive loses 500 trust points and cannot get into the layers of the darknet which require X amount of trust points. The darknet could be self segregating and color coded by level of trust. The colors will go from white all the way to black. Also the points can be expressed as titles. This would create a darknet nobility which would be extremely difficult to crack as it would take months or years to gain nobility and nobility could be lost in one bad bet.

Re:This is why you need a currency based system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32858046)

Let's use the Icelandic Krona.
Seriously, all this effort to defeat the technology of an enemy that just keeps coming? The better strategy is to beat back the enemy. The problem with a grassroots trust-based system is that it requires the enemy within, segregates general society. No, the better hand is to stop the megalomaniacs in their tracks. A darknet can only be useful to "the resistance", and if we've let things get THAT bad, a computer interaction is going to be the least of our concerns.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856986)

The friend to friend model is proven to be the most secure way to do it.

Right up until one of the friends rats out the others. Or until the spurned ex-[girl|boy]friend rats out one of the friends. Or until one of the friends does something that brings him to the attention of the authorities (say rape, or murder) and he rats out his subversive friends to save his own hide...
 
Then it becomes one of the least secure ways.
 
Seriously, there's a reason why classical clandestine groups seeks to limit the number of people who know who anyone else in the group is and who can communicate with who and in what direction and under what conditions. Your 'secure' method is not only limited to the strength of the weakest link - it has no damage limitation method. Once you're in, you've got the whole enchilada, whether you're a trusted friend or the authorities. Once you're and can communicate with everyone, a little social engineering hands you the whole network on a platter.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857160)

Which is why terrorist organizations and freedom fighters are organized in loose, small, decentralized cells.

Apply your own definition of "terrorist" and "freedom fighter", of course, depending upon which side you back.

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32857332)

Encrypted darknets prevent people from spying on you. They do not prevent people sitting on the intervening routers from observing "inappropriate" traffic, and blackholing it at the least, or busting you on the premise that anyone with something to hide is wrong. (After all, if you're gonna be an authoritarian regime, why the hell not make a law banning the use of over9000proxies -- hell, you could just about pass a ban on open proxies in the US if you talk about kiddie pr0n (for the people) and piracy (to get the money on board) loud enough...)

Especially as bandwidth increases (a few bytes here and there from IRC or an analog is much less discernable than, say, a live audio chat), making the transport layer for the darknet be steganography on an "approved" sharing site/net gives a measure of immunity to some sorts of traffic analysis. (Interesting note: If the government doesn't care about piracy, which I understand to be more-or-less so in China, some sort of "steganography" in bittorrent traffic (say, deliberate hashfails) could work well.)

problem... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857488)

this only works if Mallory and Eve are not the government run ISP.

in the case of China, the people you want to hide from, "Mallory and Eve" have access to all traffic coming from you, and see your IP connecting to the 'secret' ip.

Re:problem... (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857624)

this only works if Mallory and Eve are not the government run ISP.

in the case of China, the people you want to hide from, "Mallory and Eve" have access to all traffic coming from you, and see your IP connecting to the 'secret' ip.

No what they'd see is you connecting to a website which hosts large irrelevant picture files. What they'd see is you connecting via port 80, or another high traffic port. What they'd see is you are connecting to a series of websites over and over. The point is that it's easy to mask or hide from traffic analysis. You can make your connections look like something else.

Mallory and Eve will think you are connecting to the internet when its actually the darknet.They might see you are connecting to an IP address in America but from their end it will look like ordinary websites.

Wow.. (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32860760)

the ORIGINAL story says to use steganography techniques on normal common use websites such as facebook and flickr as connecting to those sites will not draw undue attention.

Your post- the one I was replying to, says --NO NO NO-- they must have a secret IP address to unknown proxies..

I dispute that, originally and again, because to connect to those UNKNOWN proxies, they have to type in an unusual IP address.. that kind of activity can easily by tracked by governments with access..

and your rebuttal to me says- what exactly? connecting to a series of websites makes it OK? if I control the ISP- If I am the opressor with complete system access I can pull every packet you send and receive and reassemble them.... I'll ignore connections to facebook or flickr, but I sure as hell won't ignore connections that you and 11 other people I'm keeping an eye on connect to- that no one else does...

only connections to systems that everyone commonly connects to are likely to be hideable..

Re:Wow.. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32864148)

the ORIGINAL story says to use steganography techniques on normal common use websites such as facebook and flickr as connecting to those sites will not draw undue attention.

Your post- the one I was replying to, says --NO NO NO-- they must have a secret IP address to unknown proxies..

I dispute that, originally and again, because to connect to those UNKNOWN proxies, they have to type in an unusual IP address.. that kind of activity can easily by tracked by governments with access..

and your rebuttal to me says- what exactly? connecting to a series of websites makes it OK? if I control the ISP- If I am the opressor with complete system access I can pull every packet you send and receive and reassemble them.... I'll ignore connections to facebook or flickr, but I sure as hell won't ignore connections that you and 11 other people I'm keeping an eye on connect to- that no one else does...

only connections to systems that everyone commonly connects to are likely to be hideable..

Thats where you are wrong. They wont have to type in any IP address. The entire process could be automated and done via steganography that is what I'm saying. I'm saying they could connect to 4chan, click on a picture file, the picture file could contain seednodes (IP addresses), connecting to these seednodes which could be made to look like a search request or any IP address because it's a proxy on port 80. The proxy could be run by anybody and this means it could look like a connection to IRC, a connection to AOLIM, a connection to another computer in China. Yes the authorities would recognize that they are connecting to other computers but they could claim to be playing a game of starcraft or any popular RPG and this would perfectly mimic the activity. They could even design it so that the entry point to the darknet is within secondlife.

The main problem is getting the IP addresses to the oppressed individual and having them connect to it in a way which looks legit. It's not hard to make it look legit, it's hard to get the IP addresses to them in the first place. Having steganography over facebook and flickr is useless in my opinion because the authorities will simply scan all of the web for information which matches the profile of being or containing stegnographic data. It's not difficult to scan for this and once found the entire site may be banned or monitored. On top of that anyone seen or known to be connecting to or running it will be in serious trouble. In my opinion having steganography alone wont defeat censorship so what is the point?

The darknet could be designed to work whether you use the traditional internet or not. It could be designed to work in ways which beat all attempts at censorship and in a way in which the authority would have no way of knowing it's being used. The steganography which would work better than what these people are probably going to do would be steganography on the level of protocols. You can do it on the packet level so that the hidden information can be transfered via ordinary pings. These pings could look completely normal and contain information in the IPheader that they are being sent. China would have a very difficult time dealing with this as the IP addresses could be sent in what would look like random ping patterns to a bunch of computers connected to second life or anything else.

But I'll take your word on it and maybe the darknet idea wouldnt work either, but I can tell you for sure that what they plan to do with website level steganography has no chance of working because websites are easy to index and scan by search engines. It would be entirely pointless to do it like that from a technical standpoint.

I'm saying on the network layer, or hardware layer is where the steganography would take place. I'm talking about firmware for the wifi router, or protocol level. I don't see why doing it via websites would be better than doing it via VOIP or TCPIP.
http://stegano.net/network-steganography.html [stegano.net]
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Bonq2FVlfegJ:userpages.umbc.edu/~chauhan2/CMSC691I/Embedding_Covert_channels_into_TCP_IP.ppt+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us [googleusercontent.com]

Re:Darknets are the only way to go. (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32859210)

Sorry to spoil your day dreams but the kind of darknet you describe would not work well in practise.

First, the security of steganography is very limited. Research has shown that even very sophisticated steganographic methods -- those that take into account the statistical properties of their transmission channel -- can easily be detected as soon as a significant amount of information is transmitted over the steganographic channel. Using tools like freenet might help, as they make traffic analysis harder, but I'd remain skeptical.

Second, the trust model you describe doesn't seem to work against your adversary: las enforcement, political police, and secret agencies of totalitarian countries. If friends can invite friends, your darknet will soon be subverted by undercover informants as become as public and open as the public internet.

Finally, a problem with your idea and the one in the original article is that there is no plausible deniability for its users. In court, steganographic tools and special software against censorship will count as spy tools, likely making the final sentence more severe than it could have been without the use of special software. Instead of developing tools for totalitarian countries, we should develop censorship-resistent software for all countries and make their use as mainstream as possible. Pervasive email encryption and massive use of SSL encryption for websites would be a start, but apparently there are strong forces against this in many society including the supposedly free ones.

Just my 2 cents...

goodest this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856630)

Inside the image would be IP addresses to the secret proxies or connection points to the darknet which could be Freenet. Bob can see whats going on and if Bob posts then Bob wins the opportunity to invite someone into the darknet. free sex videos [galbur.com] The channel could be hidden by steganography but the channel is just an access point.

North Korea? (3, Informative)

ShakingSpirit (1799676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856660)

...exchange messages through heavily censored networks in countries such as China and North Korea

As far as I'm aware, North Korea's internet is not filtered in any way, shape or form. It's simply that only the high-ranking military elite are allowed to access it...

Censorship... unless we "need" it (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856772)

Trying to get out in front of what they call a censorship arms race, a team of researchers has come up with technology that lets users exchange messages through heavily censored networks in countries such as China and North Korea in hidden channels via user-generated content sites such as Twitter or Flickr.

So how long till this gets either banned or heavily frowned upon in the "western" world?

Why is it that we are so happy to help Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and other dissidents get the word out and work against their censorship yet we (as in the government of the US and Europe) embrace censorship of our own networks?

Re:Censorship... unless we "need" it (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856826)

Read the mission statement of the CIA, and the CyberCommand. To win the hearts and minds of these individuals and help them to overthrow their oppressive regimes we have to promote anti censorship. It just so happens that in other situations we promote dictators and oppressive regimes. So it's all about winning the cyberwar against China and North Korea.

Blocked Sharing Site (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856776)

This will not work as Twitter, youtube, facebook, wikipedia(used to) is blocked completely in C***a for example.

As for the censorship on the internet, the bigger problem is the access, in many parts of the world, getting an internet access is a privilege and you must supply your real name, ID, address and reason for access the internet, not to mention you must sign-on and sign-off.

The books, letters and the word of mouth are more powerful weapon as they can already bring huge wealth of information, and can spark a revolutionary thoughts(look at all the human history in the past, how people communicate, spread ideals, etc).

Re:Blocked Sharing Site (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32856904)

Not only that access is restricted, but if you get caught running something like freenet, or having unauthorized encrypted transmissions, it wont matter what the content is, you can still be charged/jailed/executed just for the act of trying.

Re:Blocked Sharing Site (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32857014)

Not to mention the false positives causing even more people to be charged/jailed/executed.

pedantry rising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32856982)

I dislike the term "arms race" because it carries the historic sense of increasing risk of conflict with the increasing rise of armament. In this case, the war's already on. What we have here is a symbiotic relationship. [cue Sam & Max]

Hmm, Obammy's not gonna like this... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32857288)

That douchebag would install a camera to peep at your dizzle if he could.

Right now I'm listening to the Obummer give a speech about how George W. Bush is the reason why he can't create a single fucking job. What would Obamma do without the bogeyman of George W. Bush to drag out of the closet? How sad that he defines himself relative to George W. Bush.

Totally Secure and Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32857862)

I would love to see an absolutely secure messaging system capable of easy use and transfer of any size file in common use. Although I feel that anyone and everyone has the right to snoop I also feel that people should have the right to communicate without any possibility of censorship even when national security is involved. The instant that corporations or governments are allowed access for any reason all hopes of free communication vanish.

nigGa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32858064)

Fastest-growing GAY The curtains flew session and join in fastest-grKowing GAY

Good thing... (1)

matunos (1587263) | more than 4 years ago | (#32858414)

...there isn't any way for regimes to block access to specific websites.

And um... North Korea? I'm sure there's a 386 or two floating around there (not including the ones that power their nuke facilities) but how many North Korean dissidents do you suppose have access to the internet? They'll need to focus more on cell phone and sneaker net communications (smuggled across the Chinese border) if they want to reach them.

Go Jackets (1)

ssentinull (1763168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32860932)

another GT story on slashdot
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