New Version of GreatFire.org

We are very pleased to unveil a new version of GreatFire.org today. Here are some things we've been working on in an effort to improve the web site and to bring transparency to online censorship in China. 

Real Time Testing 

You can now test whether any URL is blocked or restricted in China in real time. Just enter any website in the main search field on the top of this page and click Test Now. Or, when browsing a report on a particular URL, you can request to have it retested immediately by clicking Test Now on its page. This is the first time that real-time monitoring of key words in China has ever been publicly available. Other web sites share information about key words which may have been blocked in the past but which are now unblocked (or vice versa). Our real-time service will allow visitors to the site to monitor blocked key words in relation to breaking news stories in China. Visitors will also gain insight into anomalies that sometimes occur with the Great Firewall including the ability to see if blocked sites like Facebook and Twitter happen to be open in China for short periods of time. 

Percentages 

We now report blocks and restrictions as percentages over the last 30 days. For example, if a URL has been tested 10 times in the last 30 days, and as a result of those tests the connection was reset 5 times and the download speed was slower than 5 kbps 2 times, our report would state that the web site is 50% blocked (5 /10) and 20% otherwise restricted (2 / 10). This means that our reports will be more reliable by providing more information about how exactly these sites are being blocked or throttled. There are frequent glitches in the Great Firewall and the previous version of our website reported only on the latest status of a web site, which could give distorted impressions. 

To qualify as a Website Blocked By The Great Firewall of China or a Search Blocked By The Great Firewall of China a URL has to have been blocked at least 50% in the last 30 days. 

Types of Censorship 

Rather than just reporting a URL as blocked, we now use algorithms to try to deduce the technical type of censorship that is occurring. Current categories are Connection Reset, DNS Poisoning, Redirected To China, Self-Censorship, Throttling and Timed Out. For any given URL, you can click on the days in the calendar to view details on how the URL was determined to be blocked or restricted. More info in our new FAQ

Baidu Self-Censorship 

Last but not least, we now also track Baidu Self-Censorship. We do this by checking for the existence of a self-censorship admission message shown on Baidu for certain sensitive keywords. Please try it out and let us know what you think on info at greatfire dot org or by commenting on this site. Historically, information which appeared about the Great Firewall has focused on what web sites are blocked to users in China, Frequently, this information focused on either popular web sites (like Facebook and Twitter) or on organizations which China has deemed to be detrimental to the people of China. For the first time, we are providing insight into what information is blocked on the biggest search engine in China. Internet users in China for the most part are aware of the fact that large web sites like Facebook are blocked. Our new feature now gives users in China a view on what Chinese keywords are being blocked on Baidu.

We have many more features to add, and you can help us in this process. Please add comments on any page with suggestions on what we can do better or problems we need to fix. Let's work together to bring transparency to online censorship in China.

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Sat, Apr 04, 2015

CNNIC censors news about their own statement

On April 1, 2015 Google announced that they will no longer recognize the CNNIC Root and EV (extensive validation) certificate authorities (CAs).

On April 2, 2015 Mozilla concluded that CNNIC’s behaviour in issuing an unconstrained intermediate certificate to another company was ‘egregious practice’ and that Mozilla products would no longer trust any certificate issued by CNNIC’s roots. Mozilla also published a more detailed report about their actions.

After unauthorized digital certificates for several Google domains were exposed by Google and Mozilla on March 23, 2015, CNNIC censored any mention of these posts. CNNIC is not only a certificate authority, they are also China’s online censorship apparatus. CNNIC was, is and will continue to practice internet censorship.

 

News about the April 1 and 2 annoucements has again been censored on social media and also on traditional media in China.

Below is a screenshot of Weibo posts about these announcements.

 

Tue, Mar 31, 2015

Chinese authorities compromise millions in cyberattacks

The Great Firewall has switched from being a passive, inbound filter to being an active and aggressive outbound one. This is a frightening development and the implications of this action extend beyond control of information on the internet. In one quick movement, the authorities have shifted from enforcing strict censorship in China to enforcing Chinese censorship on internet users worldwide.

Fri, Mar 27, 2015

CNNIC censored Google and Mozilla’s posts about CNNIC CA

This week, Google found unauthorized digital certificates for several Google domains, the root CA of which is CNNIC. Google and Mozilla both publicly disclosed this security incident and published blog posts(Google, Mozilla). However, Chinese translations of Google’s and Mozilla's blog posts were censored on the Chinese Internet.

  • William Long is a prominent Chinese blogger on IT and tech. He translated Google’s security post without adding any personal opinions. The Chinese blogpost ranked #1 when searching CNNIC MITM in Chinese on Google and Baidu. He tweeted that he received a phone call from propaganda department demanding the post to be removed immediately. The post http://www.williamlong.info/archives/4183.html was deleted. Google cache is still available.

Wed, Mar 25, 2015

Evidence shows CNNIC and CAC behind MITM attacks

Since 2013, we have repeatedly called on major software vendors to revoke CNNIC-issued certificates. Most notably, we raised this issue when we reported on the Cyberspace Administration of China’s (CAC) man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks on Google, Microsoft’s Outlook, Apple, Yahoo and Github. Mainstream media have reported about these security vulnerabilities before and on March 24, Ars Technica reported on Google’s announcement that they have definitive evidence that CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) was behind a new MITM attack on Google.

From our October, 2014 blog post:

Thu, Mar 19, 2015

We are under attack

We are under attack and we need help.

Likely in response to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), we’ve experienced our first ever distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. This tactic is used to bring down web pages by flooding them with lots of requests - at the time of writing they number 2.6 billion requests per hour. Websites are not equipped to handle that kind of volume so they usually “break” and go offline.

This kind of attack is aggressive and is an exhibition of censorship by brute force. Attackers resort to tactics like this when they are left with no other options.

We are not equipped to handle a DDoS attack of this magnitude and we need help. Some background:

  • The attack started on March 17 and we are receiving up to 2.6 billion requests per hour which is about 2500 times more than normal levels.

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Comments

New design is great, i love it. Hope it will help people to know greatfire ! (i've made a site about vpn services in the world: http://www.best-vpn-provider.com )

Best article I've seen so far in this topic!

GreatFire is clearly leading the way in the cat-and-mouse game to escape great firewall of China censorship.

Just one word : PKG, Please Keep Going!!!

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