Fighting the “blackheart airports”: Internal policing in the Chinese censorship circumvention ecosystem

Yi Ting Chua, Ben Collier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The “Great Firewall of China” (GFW) has become a familiar trope in information security circles. China is compar- atively shut off from the rest of the Internet, with extensive censorship and blocking of websites, especially those hosted outside China. The Chinese public use a variety of methods to circumvent the extensive online censorship practised by the Chinese state. In scaling the “Great Firewall”, these ordinary users of the Internet now make use of so-called “airport services” which allow tunnelling through to censored websites. This has resulted in the emergence of both an illicit ecosystem of censorship circumvention providers and a population of scammers who set up fake or unreliable services to con these would-be everyday Internet freedom enthusiasts. We have discovered, through scraping the public chat channels used by “airport” providers, that this anti-censorship ecosystem is beginning to develop highly organised methods of self-policing, making co-ordinated use of techniques associated with malicious cybercrime to force these scammers offline and promote a healthy market. While so-called “booter” services - websites where users can purchase Denial of Service attacks for a small fee - have generally been used for malicious purposes, amusement, protest, or extortion, our research suggests that in the Chinese censorship circumvention market they are being used for internal policing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research (eCrime)
PublisherIEEE Xplore
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781728163833
ISBN (Print)9781728163840
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
EventE-Crime Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, 2019 - Pittsburgh, United States
Duration: 13 Nov 201915 Nov 2019
https://apwg.org/ecrime2019/

Publication series

NameAPWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research (eCrime)
PublisherIEEE Xplore
ISSN (Print)2159-1237
ISSN (Electronic)2159-1245

Conference

ConferenceE-Crime Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPittsburgh
Period13/11/1915/11/19
Internet address

Keywords

  • China
  • cybercrime
  • censorship
  • DDoS

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