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VPN Security Stepped Up By China Ahead Of Big Trade

Censors may be testing new technology that blocks VPNs more effectively, said Lokman Tsui,

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Internet, china
Computer users sit near a monitor display with a message from the Chinese police on the proper use of the internet at an internet cafe in Beijing, China.. VOA
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Chinese authorities have stepped up efforts to block virtual private networks (VPN), service providers said Tuesday in describing a “cat-and-mouse” game with censors ahead of a major trade expo and internet conference.

VPNs allow internet users in China, including foreign companies, to access overseas sites that authorities bar through the so-called Great Firewall, such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Since Xi Jinping became president in 2013, authorities have sought to curb VPN use, with providers suffering periodic lags in connectivity because of government blocks.

“This time, the Chinese government seemed to have staff on the ground monitoring our response in real time and deploying additional blocks,” said Sunday Yokubaitis, the chief executive of Golden Frog, the maker of the VyprVPN service.

VPN
An RSA SecurID dongle used for internet VPN tunnelling , VOA

Authorities started blocking some of its services on Sunday, he told Reuters, although VyprVPN’s service has since been restored in China.

“Our counter measures usually work for a couple of days before the attack profile changes and they block us again,” Yokubaitis said.

The latest attacks were more aggressive than the “steadily increasing blocks” the firm had experienced in the second half of the year, he added.

The Cyberspace Administration of China did not respond immediately to a faxed request from Reuters to seek comment.

Another provider, ExpressVPN, also acknowledged connectivity issues on its services in China on Monday that sparked user complaints.

“There has long been a cat-and-mouse game with VPNs in China and censors regularly change their blocking techniques,” its spokesman told Reuters.

VPN
Although fears of a blanket block on services have not materialized, industry experts say VPN connections often face outages Pixabay

Last year, Apple Inc dropped a number of unapproved VPN apps from its app store in China, after Beijing adopted tighter rules.

Although fears of a blanket block on services have not materialized, industry experts say VPN connections often face outages around the time of major events in China.

Xi will attend a huge trade fair in Shanghai next week designed to promote China as a global importer and calm foreign concern about its trade practices, while the eastern town of Wuzhen hosts the annual World Internet Conference to showcase China’s vision for internet governance.

Also Read: Department Of Homeland Security Does Not Doubt Statements Of Tech Giants Regarding China Hack

Censors may be testing new technology that blocks VPNs more effectively, said Lokman Tsui, who studies freedom of expression and digital rights at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“It could be just a wave of experiments,” he said of the latest service disruptions. (VOA)

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Google Investigating The Root Cause Of Its Malfunction

ThousandEyes detected intermittent availability issues to Google services from some locations.

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YouTube, Google, google services
A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

After several users complained that they were either unable to access Google services like YouTube on Tuesday, the tech giant confirmed the root cause of this was “external” and under investigation.

Internet research firm ThousandEyes, however, claimed that “traffic to certain Google destinations appears to be routed through an ISP in Russia and black-holed at a China Telecom gateway router”.

The disruption in Google services was limited to nearly an hour.

YouTube, Google, google services
The YouTube Music app is displayed on a mobile phone in Los Angeles. VOA

“Throughout the duration of this issue Google services were operating as expected and we believe the root cause of the issue was external to Google,” the company said.

“We will conduct an internal investigation of this issue and make appropriate improvements to our systems to help prevent or minimize future recurrence.”

According to media reports, G Suite applications like Gmail and Google Drive were not impacted.

Google described the issue as “Google Cloud IP addresses being erroneously advertised by internet service providers other than Google”.

YouTube, Google, google services
A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

ThousandEyes named China Telecom, Nigerian-provider MainOne and Russian network operator TransTelekom behind this incident.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

“Potential hijack underway. ThousandEyes detected intermittent availability issues to Google services from some locations. Traffic to certain Google destinations appears to be routed through an ISP in Russia & black-holed at a China Telecom gateway router,” ThousandEyes tweeted.

Google told the Wall Street Journal that users’ data was not compromised, adding that “and that the company has no reason to believe that the incident was malicious”. (IANS)