The West has long criticised those regimes that censor internet access such as China and North Korea, but at the same time continue to debate the possibilities of being able to do the same in times of unrest – something which rightly concerns human rights activists and free speech advocates. But now researchers from the University of Michigan and University of Waterloo have created a proof of concept design in Telex for a way for users to bypass these firewalls and filters with ease.
Telex makes use of some impressive cryptographic techniques to hide the data, but at the heart creates decoy web connections to reach the blocked sites rather than secret IP addresses and encryption keys like the current options. When running Telex, the user sends a request to an unblocked site hosted in a country were the site is hosted or routed through a friendly ISP along with an encrypted decoy request tag – the friendly ISP then uses deep packet inspection to find the tag and does the rerouteing outside of the Firewall. It’s a clever idea, but does obviously rely on friendly ISPs across the globe – something not easy to achieve
The protection offered by Telex may not be sufficient on its own, but adding another layer of protection for activists sounds like a good idea to us.