Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hack the Olympics

Well, not so much the Olympics, but China:
German hackers have constructed a route around the great firewall of China. The Chaos Computer Club said its technology will help athletes and journalists traveling to Beijing for the Olympic Games to circumvent censorship.
Now, both my regular readers know that security is one of my things, so I need to do a little clarification, because this is A Very Good Thing Indeed.

A Firewall is an Internet Security device (or software) that tries to keep your computer safe from attacks. Your home DSL/Cable router has this built in; you may have "Personal Firewall" software on your computer. These keep the Bad Guys out, and so are considered to be a Good Thing.

China has constructed a series of massive firewalls where chinese network connect to Al Gore's Intarwebz. As with many commie projects, this aims to keep people in, by censoring sites containing information that may be critical of the ChiComs. This is sometimes called the Great Firewall of China, and is A Very Bad Thing.

The Chaos Computer Club are not hackers in the common sense of the term (think of them as "good hackers"). Rather, they are advocates of electronic privacy and freedom, and create some pretty useful and interesting software projects. Their latest is a damn fine one:
Visitors to China are being offered USB sticks containing a browser that connects via the TOR proxy network. These "Freedom Sticks", regular USB drives with pre-installed copies of the TorBrowser and Torprojects software, will only be available during the two-week period of the games. The Chaos Computer Club has also set up a dedicated micro-site that offers separate downloads of the software ...
TOR encrypts and otherwise hides your information from prying ChiCom (or other) eyes, so not only can the snoops not know what you're reading, but they can't even tell where you're browsing.

So a hearty Well Done to the Chaos Computer Club. And a big raspberry to the media for shamelessly sucking up to the ChiComs.

UPDATE 14 August 2008 8:52: Welcome to readers from the Guardian. Feel free to look around, but I do have to warn you (full disclosure) that I'm very much in the gun-totin' knuckle-dragin' freedom-lovin' americn troublemaker mold.

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