Freegate

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Freegate
Freegate screenshot.png
Freegate 7.31
Developer(s) Dynamic Internet Technology Inc. (DIT)
Stable release 7.42
Operating system Windows
Available in English, Chinese, Persian, Spanish
Type Anonymizer
License Freeware
Website www.dit-inc.us/freegate

Freegate is a software application developed by Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT) that enables internet users from mainland China, Syria, Iran, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates, among others, to view websites blocked by their governments. The program takes advantage of a range of proxy servers called Dynaweb. This allows users to bypass Internet firewalls that block web sites by using DIT's P2P-like proxy network system.[1] FreeGate's anti-censorship capability is further enhanced by a new, unique[citation needed] encryption and compression algorithm in the versions of 6.33 and above.[2] Dynamic Internet Technology estimates Freegate had 200,000 users in 2004.[1] The maintainer and CEO of DIT is Bill Xia.[3]

Dynaweb[edit]

DynaWeb is a collection of anti-censorship services provided by Dynamic Internet Technology Inc. (DIT). DynaWeb is a web-based anti-censorship portal. Once users point their web browser at one of the DynaWeb URLs, a web page will be presented similar to the original, with most blocked websites as links. In addition, a user can type in any URL in the box on this page and DynaWeb will fetch the pages for him or her instantly. No software is needed, nor are any settings tweaked on a user’s computer. Since the Chinese net police watch DynaWeb’s portal websites closely and block them as soon as they identify them, DynaWeb must be dynamic. It has hundreds of mirror sites at anytime, and each with a varying IP and DNS domain names to defeat IP blocking and DNS hijacking. On the backend, DynaWeb also has mechanisms to proactively monitor the blocking status of each of its mirror sites, and as soon as blocking is detected, it will change the IP and DNS domain name instantly.[2]

To keep users connected to such a dynamic infrastructure, DynaWeb has a variety of channels to keep users updated. For example, a user can send a message to one of DynaWeb’s instant messenger (IM) accounts, and will get an instant reply showing the newest addresses of DynaWeb portals. Similar things are being done with emails. By these many, dynamic channels, DynaWeb outsmarts any attempt to collect all DynaWeb addresses by the censors, because each user receives only a (different) subset of DynaWeb’s addresses. Automatic blocking detection combined with quick reaction apparently frustrates the blocking efforts on the China side of the Great Firewall of China (GFW).[2]

DIT also releases a tiny piece of software, FreeGate, which directly taps into DynaWeb’s backbone and keeps a user connected to the dynamic channels automatically. There are indications that FreeGate has some capabilities built-in to exploit some zero-day vulnerabilities of the GFW.[2]

Today DynaWeb offers the widest range of options for users to access Internet freely, and supports more than 50 million web hits per day on average from Chinese users alone.[2]

Creation and funding[edit]

DIT was founded originally in 2001 to provide email delivery services to China for U.S. government agencies and NGOs. In 2002, DIT started to provide anti-censorship services under the framework of DynaWeb, and like UltraSurf, DynaWeb became a top contender of the GFW-penetration effort.[2]

Freegate was created by Falun Gong practitioners[4] and has been financed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a US governmental agency.[5][6][7][8][9] Freegate also receives funding from Human Rights in China,[6] which is also one of its clients[10] and which receives some funding from the American non-profit organization the National Endowment for Democracy.[11] According to a CRS report, the US government gave funding of $685,000 to Freegate in 2005.[12]

Malware reports[edit]

In 2004 The Financial Times, citing a member of staff at Symantec in mainland China, reported that Norton AntiVirus identified Freegate as a trojan horse. There were initial fears that the reports may be a ploy by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities to encourage removal of the software from computers,[13] but it was soon delisted as a threat. Symantec explained that its detection was based on the software operating similarly to various Trojan horses, based on the use of proxies to penetrate firewalls used to block web sites, but that it had modified its detection to exclude Freegate.[1]

In 2013, It was reported that 'pro-government electronic actors' in Syria sent electronic messages to rebels encouraging them to download a file named Freegate which was claimed to be designed to help dissidents circumvent state surveillance agencies, but actually it was a malware and the intruder was able to monitor what the victim was typing on their computer, and read or remove the victim's files.[14]

In August 2013 while freegate was testing a new proxy program, some people thought it was a Phishing attack. Reports from Iran said the users who used Freegate to pass Internet censorship in Iran, were led to a fake page instead of facebook's main website. Freegate published a note saying they were testing a new proxy program, and the fake facebook page was a tunnel. Although IT experts warned users to be careful with the tunnel link because it doesn't use SSL security so users' information is not encrypted.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Leyden, John (September 16, 2004). "Freegate is not Trojan horse, says Symantec". Theregister.co.uk. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f http://www.internetfreedom.org/FreeGate
  3. ^ "Outrunning China's Web Cops". Businessweek. 2006-02-19. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  4. ^ "Testimony of Shiyu Zhou, Deputy Director of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium". Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, Hearing on Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law. 20 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Shirk, Susan L. (2007). China: Fragile Superpower. Oxford University Press. p. 93. 
  6. ^ a b Geoffrey A. Fowler: “Chinese Censors of Internet Face ‘Hacktivists’ in US”. In: Wall Street Journal, 14 February 2006.
  7. ^ Pan, Philip P. (21 February 2006). "Free Software Takes Users Around Filters". Washington Post. 
  8. ^ "Chipping Away at China's Great Firewall]". Public Broadcasting Service. 11 April 2006. 
  9. ^ K. Oanh Ha (8 July 2006). "Hackers, activists challenge Beijing's Internet police: Piercing China's great firewall". Mercury News. 
  10. ^ "Our Clients". Dynamic Internet Technology. 
  11. ^ "Project Database of the NED". Ned.org. 
  12. ^ Lau, Michelle W. "Internet Development and Information Control in the People’s Republic of China" (PDF). Congressional Research Service Report for the United States Congress, 22 November 2005, table 1. | International Broadcasting Bureau Funding for Counter-Censorship Technology. Fpc.state.gov. 
  13. ^ Leyden, John (September 14, 2004). "Symantec labels China censor-busting software as Trojan". Theregister.co.uk. 
  14. ^ Harris, Shane (3 September 2013). "How Did Syria's Hacker Army Suddenly Get So Good?". Foreign policy. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "اطلاع رسانی دیرهنگام فیلترشکن فری‌گیت کاربران و کارشناسان را گمراه کرد". Tavaana tech. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 

External links[edit]