Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Boing Boing's Guide To Defeating Censorware

Boing Boing is taking a brave stand, but unfortunately they've put the instructions of how to access their site from behind a filtering service such as Secure Computing's SmartFilter on their site :) I'm just replicating them here, So people on the net can find the suggestions on a possibly non-blocked domain.

(For more information, see story here or the article here )

"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." -- John Gilmore

If your employer or corrupt, undemocratic, dictator-based government uses a filtering service such as Secure Computing's SmartFilter to block access to BoingBoing.net, you can try the following workarounds:

  • Use the TOR network. The more people who run Tor servers, the faster and more anonymous the network becomes.

  • Using an SSH tunnel, VPN, or anonymous overlay to an unfiltered network is widely considered to be the best way to protect yourself while accessing "prohibited" content. (Thanks, chris)
  • Use Google as a proxy to access forbidden sites. Link

  • A group called Peacefire created proxy software called Circumventor to bypass censorware. Install this software on your home computer and allow others to use your proxy to access the web, or use your proxy from work or school to access any web site. (Thanks, Sean!)
  • Breaking out of a Proxy Jail. Link (Thanks, Mutz!)
  • Try Daveproxy, and other services listed on the proxy list at samair.ru/proxy together with AntiFirewall (a small app that tests proxies). (Thanks, Joao Barata!)
  • Try Java Anonymous Proxy. JAP uses the TOR network, and installation is pretty easy for non-nerds. (Thanks, Jonas)
  • The Bitty browser, while not initially designed as an anonymizing tool, has helped some of our readers work around corporate internet filters. (Thanks, Scott Matthews!)
  • Some of our readers have found the Coral Content Distribution Network (CCDN) helpful for evading internet blocks.
    Just add ".nyud.net:8080" at the end of boingboing.net -- for example, instead of typing
    http://www.boingboing.net to your browser's address line, instead type http://www.boingboing.net.nyud.net:8080. (Thanks, Tian!)
  • Check out the regularly updated list of public proxy servers
    at publicproxyservers.com.
  • For BoingBoing readers in the UAE or Qatar, or other countries where BoingBoing is blocked, one anonymous reader tells us: "There is an internet via satellite called OPENSKY sold through www.broadsat.com which goes around these problems. Using VPN with normal dialup, the signal gets sent back from Europe, so, uncensored. Works really well and is cheap!"
  • Andy Armstrong says, "I've also set up a proxy for boingboing at boingboing.hexten.net."
  • Abdul Aziz
    says, "It's a pain to know that countries and companies alike are blocking and censoring sites like Boing Boing. I face this at my office everyday. I've mentioned two ways on my site by which you can bypass these proxies and filters safely and securely without breaking any rules or arousing the network admin's suspicions." Link


  • If possible, ask your system administrator to whitelist BoingBoing.net. Sometimes network admins leave all the defaults on when they install enterprise filtering software. If they're using SmartFilter, for example, the admin can selectively allow the BoingBoing.net domain, while keeping the rest of the entries for the "blocked" category in which BoingBoing is listed. Bribing your sysadmin with cartons of Skittles and Red Bull may expedite this option. (Thanks, mcsey!)

If you know of any good ways to defeat censorware, please send us your suggestion.