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Bahrain Activists Battered By IP Tracking Attacks

timothy posted about a year ago | from the couldn't-happen-here dept.

Censorship 48

An anonymous reader writes "Having been targeted by malware in the past, anti-government protesters in Bahrain are now being hit hard by IP tracking attacks, according to a researcher. Bill Marczak, of Bahrain Watch and Citizen Lab, who is putting together a report on the attacks, said it appeared Bahrain officials had been masquerading as fake activists, sending obfuscated URLs to targets to learn their IP address. The next step is to take the IP address and the time of the click to the relevant ISP to find out who the user is. Then all sorts of things can happen. 'People who have clicked on these links have suffered various types of consequences ranging from having their houses raided and being charged for saying insulting things about the king on Twitter, or losing their jobs,' says Marczak. 'It looks like, from our investigation so far, in one case, the government did lock up the wrong person.'"

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These protestors are ignored by the West (5, Interesting)

compucomp2 (1776668) | about a year ago | (#44425313)

because the Bahrain government is sponsored by Saudi Arabia, and the USA has a big military base there. Consistently these protests have been ignored, or if covered, the Western media has put a pro government slant, especially on the Saudi Arabia aided crackdown awhile back. Western hypocrisy on full display, just like in a sports match it's just fine if your team does it while it's the embodiment of evil if the other team does it (see Libya, Syria).

Re:These protestors are ignored by the West (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44425999)

You got modded "troll"? Looks like someone with the Bahrain police got a hold of some mod points.

Btw, is it ok to not support the US base there? God forbid we criticize our military saints nowadays.

Re:These protestors are ignored by the West (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44426833)

The Bahreini (Shia) activists should enlist the help of the (anti-Sunni) Syrian Electronic Army to get over this. This is the thing about the 'Arab Spring' - they are perfectly happy for Sunni majorities to come to power, be it in Egypt, Libya and now, Syria, but when it comes to Shia majorities coming to power, like in Bahrein or Iraq, they hate it. Actually, 'democracy' in these countries is just mob rule, and a license for the majority (be it Shia in Iraq or Sunnis in Syria) to do whatever they feel like.

Re:These protestors are ignored by the West (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44426857)

Doesnt the US get massively criticized as being an imperialistic, oil-interested monster every time we intervene overseas?

Re:These protestors are ignored by the West (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#44427247)

Exactly. Bad as they may be, they are far better without US intervention. See all those countries US "helped" to free from tyranny in the last decades for reference.

Re:These protestors are ignored by the West (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44426995)

I love how /. is headed... when a country does something bad, it is the US's fault. Places like Syria which are true brutal hellholes (but not hellholes due to the US being involved) get a free pass.

Comparatively little to worry about... (1)

Midnight_Falcon (2432802) | about a year ago | (#44425323)

When opposed to the NSA's NarusInsight devices simply sniffing all traffic, and if you try to obfuscate via VPN tunnels or Tor etc, doing traffic correlation attacks with known sites you're using to find out your identity. Mere use of Tor or a VPN should be able to stop this elementary scheme by the Bahraini police.

But then, it's always an arms to see which side keeps ahead of whom....

Scary because it's so effective (4, Insightful)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | about a year ago | (#44425403)

If you're going to be a repressive tyrant, at least do it right. While the false positive rate on true dissidents probably limits the effectiveness to some degree, the much more chilling effect is to make people afraid to read any anti-regime news. That's probably much more valuable to them in the long run than nabbing a few people they consider troublesome.

Re:Scary because it's so effective (4, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44425555)

These actions are never about the dissidents they find. It's always about making an example of someone. It doesn't even have to be a real person, as long as the coverage is public enough and people believe it.

Re:Scary because it's so effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44425641)

Except fear generally leads to violent outbursts because people learn to consider ALL news as propaganda (official news) or government traps (fake anti-government news).

When it becomes safer to silently plot against the government than it is to vent your frustration and change things within the system, you have a nasty recipe for conflict.

Tor (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44425417)

This is what Tor is for. Use it.

Re:Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44425579)


Re:Tor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44427091)

Not quite. Of course this will help actual activists not get caught, but! As stated above, if a media-example is made of a few activists being caught, people (your dentist, grandma) will steer clear of even reading such news, because of the possibility of being tracked as transmitting anti-government material. And if you think "normal" folk are going to start using Tor, you're an idiot.

That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the dude below who presses upon "us programmers" the need to embrace privacy and anonymity. People's lives depend on it, so how can we make Tor-like, secure communications the default? An open question.

Well said (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44425433)


With infinite information imbalance, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44425489)

what can possibly go right?

Captcha: nothing

Old folks do not even remember times of serfdom and ownership of land was restricted to the privileged.
Land and information is not all that different in terms of power and wealth.

Tor to the rescue once more (1)

Davo Batty (2855025) | about a year ago | (#44425611)

Or is this a Tor troll?

all humans are shit (-1, Offtopic)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#44425823)

All humans are shit Fuck the world

add it to the list (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44425913)

So now, since I'm from the US, I'm up to:
The Thailand royal party sucks
The queen of England sucks
The king of Bahrain sucks
Are there any I missed insulting where it's legal in the US but illegal in their own country?
Anyway, anyone with a brain should be using TOR. They can track that all the way to a known exit node and that's it. Most smaller countries like this can't block every known TOR exit node either. Even China has problems blocking every single one.

Re:add it to the list (3, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#44425997)

Russia. Putin. See the story from earlier today.

Re:add it to the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44426061)

I'm in the US so I'm not sure if it is ok to not support the troops though.

Re:add it to the list (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#44426437)

No matter what country you're from or what your political ideals are, it is never okay to "not support the troops".

The troops are people who have put themselves in harm's way to fight for their ideals. That is a commendable quality, regardless of what those ideals are. You are, however, perfectly free to oppose those ideals and promote your own. You are perfectly free to vote for pacifist politicians and to openly protest wars, but do not confuse the war with the people fighting in it.

Re:add it to the list (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#44427157)

No matter what country you're from or what your political ideals are, it is never okay to "not support the troops".

The troops are people who have put themselves in harm's way to fight for their ideals.

Maybe they put themselves in harms way for their ideals, or maybe they did it for a steady pay check, and to get the training needed to go after one of those often very lucrative private security/logistics jobs at an entity like Blackwater ( or whatever its calling itself now).

I am not suggesting that I am ungrateful to those who have served in our military. I am not suggesting most of them are Patriots, or that the vast majority of their hearts are in anything inconsistent with serving our nation, and defending their families and fellow citizens. I would remind you though that very few peoples motives are entirely pure, and in any barrel large enough you will find a bad apple or two.

Re:add it to the list (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#44427299)

Profit and pursuit of personal happiness (even at the expense of others) is an ideal in itself. It might not be a very socially-friendly one, but it's an ideal nonetheless.

Re:add it to the list (1)

simtel (798974) | about a year ago | (#44426379)

There are too few TOR exit nodes for everyone with a brain to use it. Now if they moved all the actual anti-establishment news to an onion address, then they could know that all non-onion links are propaganda or honeypots.

Re:add it to the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44427383)

There are too few TOR exit nodes for everyone with a brain to use it..

Which of course would change as the number of users increased...

Re:add it to the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44429753)

I'm actually happy for them. I hope they beat some of those muslim fucks to death over this. Muslims should be shoveled in ovens just like how Hitler did it to the jews.

Bullshit (2)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#44425915)

" one case, the government did lock up the wrong person."

The fact they lock up anyone for speaking their mind makes that an oxymoron.

Re:Bullshit (1)

perceptual.cyclotron (2561509) | about a year ago | (#44429537)

I think you mean a tautology...

The hypocrisy of US (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44426003)

The Monarchy of Bahrain, has again and again, committed crimes against the civil population. Unlike other Arab nations, little or nothing is said in corporate media or by the US Gov. officials, simply because the Bahrain monarchy is an "ally" that allows an US military base in their soil.

The last time a movement not too different to the Egyptians and Tunisians (plaza included); was dealt by bringing Saudi (foreign) military troops against the population. That monarchy further proceeded to demolish the place and built a road on it, so that the symbol was never more.

"America", of course, turns a blind eye...

Re:The hypocrisy of US (2)

hduff (570443) | about a year ago | (#44428785)

The Monarchy of Bahrain, has again and again, committed crimes against the civil population. Unlike other Arab nations, little or nothing is said in corporate media or by the US Gov. officials, simply because the Bahrain monarchy is an "ally" that allows an US military base in their soil.

I suspect that there's very little pressure from the US government to not print these stories, it's just that the editorial board does not find it relevant or interesting to the targeted demographic of the media's advertisers.

It's simply that news coverage of the death or oppression of thousands of non-US citizens does not boost circulation nor sell cars or burgers.

Sad but true.

for the record, this is a wetware problem. (2)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#44426081)

From Foreign Policy Magazine:

Shortly before the Arab Spring, Hillary Clinton praised Bahrain for embarking upon a "democratic path." Obama has since called on Bahrain's rulers to implement reforms, but he's held back from speaking out as forcefully against the crackdown as he did with countries like Libya and Syria. The Obama administration is currently delaying a $53 million arms sale to Bahrain until an "independent" Bahraini panel issues a report on alleged human rights abuses during the uprising.

Why is it we're not leaping to defend the uprisers? The U.S. Navy enjoys having its Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain. Bahrain lives adjacent to the persian gulf, which is incidentally pissing distance from our latest boogeyman Iran. Why no arms deal? its not because we give a shit so much as to ensure we can guarantee their military wont stage a coup in the name of the people and oust our convenient dictator...because thats a thing that sometimes happens when people dont like you sticking your dick in their regional politics.

and if you're concerned this is an obama "thing," crack open your history books and turn to the carter doctrine. Jimmy basically guaranteed we have to spend the rest of our miserable existence stirring a kettle of kalashnikovs for cheap oil.

We owe a solution to Bahrain Activists (4, Insightful)

colordev (1764040) | about a year ago | (#44426439)

I don't know about your priorities, but "we the programmers" are important partners for those resisting true tyrannies. Thus, pursue making your programs compatible as tools of revolution - not something that will get freedom fighters and their friends thrown into jails.

Consider communicating to the internet using HTTPS, TOR or something similar. Have cell-phone pictures (atleast those from the worst totalitarian countries) by default stripped off their GPS-data and other identification data. Embrace anonymity by default. And if possible make all your communication and messaging software end- to-end encrypted. And finally help the revolunaries getting rid of incriminating evidence from the hard disks, USB sticks; for example by overwriting data not just by removing filenames.

Those who trust their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, upon your software do appreciate you going that extra mile.

Bahrain anti-protest actions = UK government (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44426713)

The British government has sent high ranking police and intelligence officers on secondment into Bahrain to oversee the crackdown on democracy protesters. Under direct instructions from the UK, all activists, their families, friends and other associates are monitored 24/7. Key leaders are targeted for arrest, followed by either torture and then long prison sentences, or simple murder. The British are operating the same plans as they followed in various colonial states toward the end of the British Empire.

The British tactic involves manipulating the highest ranking members of the activist organisation, while exterminating all lower members that have potential, but little media awareness. Britain follows the Ancient Roman model of keeping the most public of the activist leaders alive, in case they are useful as co-opted dupes in some future political re-arrangement in the nation involved (see Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest recent examples of this tactic in play).

Anyway, sadly for the people involved, this is a non-story on a global level. Try asking yourselves why British Intelligence has arranged massive prison break-outs in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last few days. Maybe Blair wants one last round of terrorist cannon fodder to send against the poor people of Syria, but this seems way too small fry for Blair. It looks like Tony Blair is gearing up for another "Emmanuel Goldstein"-ploy now that the long-dead bin Laden was given a very public, very fake post-mortem death years after the real event.

PS ever ask yourself why the US and Blair are destroying significant secular nations of the Earth one-by-one, and replacing them with extremist theocracies, usually with very close links to Israel and Saudi Arabia? Iraq, Libya and Syria were modern socialist states that respected the rights of women, and freedom of conscience. Your best mate, Obama, only loves Middle East states that have ZERO freedom of conscience, and treat women atrociously.

"Kingdoms" (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about a year ago | (#44426739)

"Kingdoms" belong in the past. It's hypocritical of a democracy (maybe that should be in scare quotes) to even recognise a monarchy as a legitimate government (of course we all know the reasons why they do, convenience and favours chief amongst them).

But yeah the rightful place for a King is in a guillotine, in my humble opinion.

Kinda makes me despair about our species in general. We're always a slip away from this kind of bullshit in any society. Celebrity worship/obsession is the same kind of thing, nascent king-making.

Re:"Kingdoms" (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44426847)

As opposed to a republic, such as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea? The one that's now ruled by grandson baby Kim?

Re:"Kingdoms" (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about a year ago | (#44427519)

Calling it a republic doesn't make it one though does it? I believe it may technically still be a necrocracy (with head of state being Kim Jong-Il's long dead father) but in effect, it's a monarchy.

Re:"Kingdoms" (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44428471)

My point was that countries that officially overthrew monarchies simply replaced it w/ a different dynasty, w/o saying so in as many words. Like in Iraq, King Faisal was deposed, and replaced by Saddam, who, had he remained, would have had Udai or Qusay succeed him. Even though Saddam didn't call himself a sultan. In Libya, Gadaffi ousted a king in 1969, but in his succession would have been his son Saif al Islam. In Syria, Hafez al Assad originally planned to have his older son Basil succeed him, but after the latter died, he recalled his younger son Bashar and set him up. And you have North Korea. Oh, and Cuba too - anybody doubts that Raul will succeed Comrade Fidel?

The Soviets started the mantra of 'republics good, kingdoms bad', as they assassinated Tsar Nikolai II and the last of the Romanovs, but their puppets, as in all the above examples, fell in love w/ the idea of family rule and pretty much built in their own dynasties, under the veneer of republics. It would be like the Kings of Libya or Iraq were just replaced by different Kings from new dynasties. So I'd really not put much weight on the Hanafas who rule Bahrein - even if Bahrein were to become a republic, you can bet that whoever became their leading figure would start a personality cult - par for the course in that region - and set up his own dynasty instead. And being Shi'ite, it would probably be a vassal of Iran or Iraq.

Re:"Kingdoms" (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about a year ago | (#44430249)

Totally fair. I think it boils down to marketing in a sense. Even China doesn't 'own up' to what it really is. What little voting that happens within the party is predetermined.

Funnily enough I always thought it was an amazing coincidence that in a country where 'anyone' can be president you have George Bush and shortly later, Dubya. What are the odds eh? ;)

Re:"Kingdoms" (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44432683)

Actually, China hasn't seen the sort of nepotism that we have in the other examples, such as Cuba or North Korea. Yeah, its one party authoritarian rule ain't democratic at all, but monarchy vs republic is a different argument from autocracy vs democracy.

Blocked Content. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44427085)

i am in Bahrain - this article has been blocked from IP addresses in this country

don't use IP addresses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44427117)

IP addresses aren't always a direct indication of who is responsible. And, even when they are, they might be wrong if someone hijacked your wifi. This can't end well.

Twitter (1)

mars-nl (2777323) | about a year ago | (#44429673)

Often when I sent out a tweet, I get a reply by some random vague twitter account with some obfuscated URL. I considered this to be spam (usually I don't click on it), but could it be some automated system run by some government to collect IP-addresses of people who post critical tweets?

mm you are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44437089)

I am in Bahrain .. all activist terrorism loyalty is to Iran ... Iran investing in them
however they are just few .. the majority are happy

Re:mm you are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44440211)

I'm guessing that you are Sunnite, right?

Bahrein is 75% Shi'ite, and they are under a dictatorship by the Sunni Hanafa dynasty, backed by the Saudis. During the 'Arab Spring', while the Saudis were happy to support the current insurection against the Alawite regime in Syria, somehow, they decided to turn against the same trend going on in Bahrein. Simple reason - the Bahreinis are mainly Shi'ites, and would therefore more likely do what Iraq did, and ally with Iran. So the Saudis marched troops in Bahrein - pretty illegally - and helped crush the insurection. Just imagine the hue & cry that would have happened had Israel tried to hoist a Maronite government in Lebanon. In case of the Saudis, all one heard was... crickets.

So in the entire Middle East, the battle lines are drawn - Iran, Hizbullah, Syria and Iraq supporting Shia parties wherever they can find them, and conversely, the Saudis, al Qaeda, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood and other Sheikhdoms supporting Sunni parties everywhere they can find them. So in some cases, you will see the Saudis seemingly support 'democracy', such as in Syria, while in other cases, you will see Iran support 'democracy', such as in Bahrein. However, none of them is remotely commited to any sort of pluralism - political, religious or any other type, or else, Iran and Saudi Arabia would have been democracies. It's just them ganging up along sectarian lines throughout the region.

Report (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44444713)

Bahrain Watch, the group that did the study in to the IP spying issue, has published its press release and technical report on the subject: [] []

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