Iranians resist internet censorship amid deadly street protests

Tor usage skyrockets as citizens try to bypass blocks


Iranian authorities have blocked Instagram and other social media platforms in response to a wave of street protests across the country this week.

The clampdown has resulted in Tor users climbing from around 6k at the beginning of December to over 10,000 at the last count as citizens seek to circumvent the controls, according to official stats.

The Islamic Republic's government has blocked Telegram and Instagram amid demonstrations, initially about economic conditions, in which at least 22 people have lost their lives.

In a possibly related development, a BGP routing protocol outage hit Iran yesterday (January 1).

Telegram's "public channels" are an important source of news for many in Iran partly because competing services such as Twitter and Facebook have long since been blocked.

Iranian authorities have previously permitted Telegram because of the messaging service's use of local (closed) content delivery networks, a technical decision that has attracted both concern and calls for greater transparency from human rights advocates.

Telegram has 25 million daily users in Iran, according to estimates cited by celeb whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Pavel Durov, Telegram's founder, confirmed that Iran has "blocked access to Telegram for its citizens due to opposition activity in channels" clarifying that this was different from Telegram's own decision to block a particular channel that was advocating violence against the Iranian police.

A presentation by tech expert and human rights activist Mahsa Alimardani at last week's 34C3 conference on internet censorship in Iran and related topics can be found below. ®

Youtube Video

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading
  • Google assuring open-source code to secure software supply chains
    Java and Python packages are the first on the list

    Google has a plan — and a new product plus a partnership with developer-focused security shop Snyk — that attempts to make it easier for enterprises to secure their open source software dependencies.

    The new service, announced today at the Google Cloud Security Summit, is called Assured Open Source Software. We're told it will initially focus on some Java and Python packages that Google's own developers prioritize in their workflows. 

    These two programming languages have "particularly high-risk profiles," Google Cloud Cloud VP and GM Sunil Potti said in response to The Register's questions. "Remember Log4j?" Yes, quite vividly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022