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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

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)

Next Story

Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

Facebook which accounts for 75 per cent of global ad spend that is likely to hit $110 billion by 2020 is nowhere near an immediate demise and government regulations would only strengthen the social networking giant in the short term, a new Forrester research has forecast.

However, Facebook’s push to become China’s WeChat — more than a messaging app and is full of capabilities to make life easier for its one billion users — would be its undoing.

Facebook‘s no-good-very-bad 2018 may have meant an overworked PR team but the social media behemoth is doing just fine.

It continues to report steady user and revenue growth: a 9 per cent year over year increase in users in Q4 2018 and a 30 per cent increase in revenue in the same time-frame.

“The three parties that could impact Facebook the most — users, brands and regulators — will move too slowly for it to feel any instant impact,” said Jessica Liu, Senior Analyst, Forrester.

The coming years won’t be easier, but the social media behemoth won’t suddenly collapse either, as many predict.

facebook
FILE – The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

“But while Facebook’s short-term outlook might be fine, its long-term outlook is bleak,” Liu added

Despite constant negative news last year, Facebook continued to report strong quarter-

over-quarter user and revenue growth. Brands that mishandle their own users’ data and fail to inform them typically falter.

While these users and advertisers could affect change at the social media giant immediately, they won’t, thus allowing it to continue to defy the odds.

“Enacting and enforcing regulation takes so long that Facebook will be able to shore up its assets and unique advantages in the short term and eliminate any vulnerabilities before serious user, advertiser, or regulatory changes materialize,” Liu emphasised.

The social networking giant with over two billion users globally, is facing regulatory challenges as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has exposed its lapses of data privacy and security.

facebook, personal data
FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

The downfall for Facebook, said Liu, would come with its desire to build an all-inclusive social media experience, as its CEO mark Zuckerberg is planning to merge all apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram into one.

“Facebook’s hope to recreate WeChat, China’s largest messaging app turned all-in-one portal

to the Internet, presents long-term challenges,” Liu added.

WeChat primarily operates in a single country’s political and regulatory environment.

Also Read: South Korean Tech Giant Samsung Launches 2 New Tablets in India

“Facebook will need to tack on products and services to fulfill its one-app vision while global regulators threaten antitrust. It will also grapple with protecting user privacy globally while appeasing advertiser appetite for hypertargeting,” Liu noted.

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre.

“History has taught us that existing apps max out and then decline as users tire of the services or the company (like AOL, MySpace, Friendster). The Facebook app is already experiencing this; Instagram and WhatsApp will follow in a natural peak and then eventually decelerate, too,” Liu commented. (IANS)