In China there is the Great Wall of China, and also the Great Chinese Firewall. The authorities prefer to call it Project Golden Shield, but in reality it is a Great Firewall that filters all the Internet content that arrives in China.
This firewall censors all content that is banned by the Chinese government. If an Internet user from that country looks for information about the Dalai Lama, sex or online gambling, the only thing he will find is a blank page with the phrase “Web not found”.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 people work to censor in real time the comments that are published in forums, websites and social networks. The popular social network Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, has 4000 employees dedicated solely to the task of censoring the comments of its users.
Fang Binxing is considered the architect of this Great Chinese Firewall:
Last week he was caught in a compromised situation when he used a virtual private network (VPN) or proxy to bypass his own protection during a conference at the Heilongjiang Institute of Technology, with the aim of accessing a South Korean website that was censored but needed to conduct the conference.
According to Techworm, Fang Binxing himself realized what he was doing and asked attendees not to imitate his example. The irony of the case is that by using the VPN the firewall he had designed himself blocked it and Mr. Binxing could not access the web he needed.
After the conference was scheduled a round of questions and answers that was suddenly cancelled.
According to Statista, 29% of Chinese Internet users use a proxy or VPN to skip the Great Firewall and access censored websites, which include search engines such as Google or social networks such as Facebook, but also casinos and gambling websites. You can also do the same if you look and purchase pirate bay proxy list.
Advantages and disadvantages of a proxy
In general, proxies make several new things possible:
- Control: only the intermediary does the real work, so you can limit and restrict the rights of users, and give permissions only to the proxy.
- Savings. Therefore, only one of the users (the proxy) has to be equipped to do the real work.
- Speed If several clients are going to request the same resource, the proxy can cache: save the response of a request to give it directly when another user requests it. So you don’t have to contact the destination again, and you end up faster.
- Filtering. The proxy can refuse to respond to some requests if it detects that they are prohibited.
- Modification. As an intermediary, a proxy can falsify information, or modify it following an algorithm.
- Anonymity. If all users are identified as one, it is difficult for the accessed resource to be able to differentiate them. But this can be bad, for example when you must necessarily make the identification.
In general, the use of an intermediary can cause:
- Abuse. Being willing to receive and respond to requests from many users, you may be doing some work that you don’t touch. So you have to control who has access to your services and who doesn’t, which is usually very difficult.
- Load. A proxy has to do the work of many users.
- Interference. It’s one more step between origin and destination, and some users may not want to go through the proxy. And less if it caches and keeps copies of the data.
- Inconsistency. If you’re caching, you might get it wrong and give an old response when there’s a newer one in the target resource. This problem doesn’t really exist with today’s proxy servers, as they connect to the remote server to check that the cached version is still the same as the one on the remote server.
- Irregularity. The fact that the proxy represents more than one user gives problems in many scenarios, specifically those that presuppose a direct communication between 1 sender and 1 receiver (such as TCP/IP).