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Understanding and Circumventing Network Censorship

By J.Austine
Understanding and Circumventing Network Censorship

Anything networtk censorship is a bit complicated. Understanding it therefore requires some deep analysis. Some organizations, schools, companies, or internet providers use specific software to deny access to some websites or services on the web. This is called internet filtering or blocking, and it’s a specific type of censorship.  Filtering blocks hosting providers, entire websites, or internet technologies.

Understanding and Circumventing Network Censorship

Some organizations, schools, companies, or internet providers use specific software to deny access to some websites or services on the web. This is called internet filtering or blocking, and it’s a specific type of censorship.  Filtering blocks hosting providers, entire websites, or internet technologies.
However, there are numerous ways to combat censorship. Some of them are ideal in offering protection against surveillance, whereas some are not. If someone is controlling your netblocks or filters a site, you can circumvent using a tool to get the information.
The best tool to use for circumvention depends on your plan of security. You can start by creating a security plan if you are starting. But, know that your internet connection controller may notice your activity. The person may know the technique or tool you're using and even consider taking action against you.

Understanding Internet Censorship

Getting your communications the right way requires a lot of processes. This ensures everything works in a proper manner and together from one place to another. If someone yearns to block the internet, they will have to target different parts of your system. Their method of use will be based on technology in use or devices they can control. Besides, their knowledge and resources are also vital for them to reveal their intention to others.

Surveillance and Censorship

Internet surveillance and censorship are two sides of the coin. It is a two-step process:
Spot “unacceptable” activity
Block “unacceptable” activity
The first process is similar to internet surveillance. Suppose your internet administrator can monitor your movement online, probably within their control, to block the activity or to leave it. But blocking or internet filtering can be difficult if you use internet and data privacy tools.
Circumvention techniques are beneficial for this by protecting your information from network snobbery when you surf the internet.

What is the Cost of Surveillance?

Blocking the internet is costly. And, it's even worse when you want to over-block it because it's way expensive. For example, the Chinese government doesn't censor GitHub's website hosting many anti-government newsletters. Despite not censoring, Chinese software developers have to access GitHub to perform all tasks. This benefits its economy since it's costly to block the site, and the economy will not gain much from the blocking.
Even though China resorted to this, not all countries can make a similar decision. In recent happenings, temporary internet blackouts are becoming an everyday norm. It happens despite the actions harming the local economies enormously.

Understanding Where and How Network Censorship Happen

Your request is made possible when you try to log in to a specific website like https://eff.org, which has a listing on IP address. It happens by passing through various devices like Internet Service Providers and home network routers before reaching the ultimate IP address. Then it finally loads into your computer, and there you can access the information. Censorship happens by:

Blocking on your devices – Happens mostly in schools and workplaces where computers are managed in order not to reach specific sites or communicate in specific ways.
Local network filtering – Here, someone forces a limit on internet activity like controlling sites you visit or specific keyword searches.
Blocking by Internet Service Provider – Your IPS is like a local internet administrator and has the duty to filter and censor the internet regularly. Some are government agencies, while commercial ones offer filtering services to employers and households.

How does Blocking happen?

Internet blocking ways include:
IP address blocking – This is where the locations of the computer are blocked. For a computer to function, an IP address has to indicate To what address and From address. Internet administrators may block some locations making such sites unreachable.
DNS blocking – When you get online, often you connect through an internet service provider. Your ISP is the one giving you the default DNS resolver. So, you may be blocked by an administrator by programming the DNS resolver to provide the wrong answer when looking for blocked site locations.
Keyword filtering – ISP may block some web pages because of the content they provide, more so if traffic is encrypted. However, it's immensely getting unpopular since encrypted sites are increasing day by day.
HTTPS site filtering – Https sites have all their content encrypted except the site’s name. ISP can still block these sites because of the name.
Protocol and port blocking – Here, a firewall or router may be used to know the type of technology an individual uses. More so, when communicating and block certain sites based on the technical details on how they communicate.
Network shutdown involves physically unplugging infrastructures supporting networks like network cables, routers, and cellular towers to bar people from having internet connections.
Throttling – Internet providers can decide to slow down various types of traffic. Instead of blocking specific sites, the government censors decide to throttle. That is a slow-down process, making people refrain from such sites citing unresponsiveness.

Circumvention Techniques

If there is no information about a user’s internet activity, it’s hard for an internet provider to block some activities. This requires someone to use encryption services to hide all activities when surfing the internet. Here are ways to be more innovative:
Use encrypted DNS or change your DNS provider
If internet filtering relies on DNS blocking, changing it or encrypting will be safer to have full access. Change your DNS provider by giving your new provider access to your settings to take full charge of all your internet activity. For encrypted DNS, use technologies like DNS-over-HTTPS easily on Firefox or DNS-over-TLS on Android to configure your computer and phone, respectively.
Use a VPN
Consider using a Virtual Private Network to encrypt all messages and data you send using the internet through a server. Understanding this part s very crucial. Once a VPN is configured the right way, you can easily access dark websites, e-mails, and other internet services. Once you have a VPN in place, it will protect you from spying on by hackers and even internet administrators.
However, the VPN provider will still have records. Also, called logs of the sites you access or even give a third party control to look at the browsing history. However, the government can still eavesdrop on your VPN connection, threat model, access to your VPN logs, and others. For this reason, some people tend to think the disadvantages of using a VPN outweigh its benefits.

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