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Navigating the censored web wcto

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Navigating the Censored Web
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Navigating the censored web wcto

  1. 1. Navigating the Censored Web WordCamp Toronto - 2017 John P. Gamboa Technical Success Manager, WP Engine @jgamboa
  2. 2. Shanghai, China
  3. 3. CROP IMAGE TO GRAY BOX
  4. 4. Blocked in China
  5. 5. UNTIL...
  6. 6. April 12, 2012
  7. 7. CROP IMAGE TO GRAY BOX
  8. 8. China HTTP Traffic to Cloudflare April 12, 2012
  9. 9. ● How do we reach as many people as possible on a censored Internet? ● Can WordPress do this? ● How do we make a WordPress site so that it can’t be blocked? ● What can we do if the site gets blocked?
  10. 10. You are not operating on a level playing field
  11. 11. Freedom on the Net Report 2016
  12. 12. Is WordPress the right tool in a closed network?
  13. 13. 👍 🏽
  14. 14. “WordPress is used by 59.4% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 28.5% of all websites.”
  15. 15. Internet Sovereignty Internet management, network infrastructure, surveillance and content restrictions are the sovereign right of nation-states. The Internet follows terrestrial boundaries and borders.
  16. 16. Ideas on Internet Sovereignty are quickly being adopted by countries that are known to be “enemies of Internet” to legitimize censorship of all speech
  17. 17. How are WordPress sites censored globally?
  18. 18. Blocking Sites Outright - Iran: SmartFilter - Russia: Roskomnadzor, government agency - China: “Golden Shield Project,” aka Great Firewall of China - Turkey: Judicial blocks based on political needs
  19. 19. Forced Data Localization - Russia requires local registration of bloggers with more than 3,000 followers - Apple removed VPN software in the Chinese app store - China - Germany - India - Indonesia - Kazakhstan - South Korea - Nigera - Russia - Turkey - Vietnam
  20. 20. DDoS For Hire - WP Engine customer based out of Phillipines often the target of Chinese DDoS. Likely for criticizing Duterte government. - /wp-login.php is a ripe location for lazy script kiddies triying to get into to sites to deface and take down content.
  21. 21. DNS Poisoning
  22. 22. SSL - Very important for security and SEO - Emerging Internet markets have lower adoption - Entire sites are more likely to be blocked
  23. 23. Why do WordPress sites get blocked?
  24. 24. South Korea
  25. 25. Turkey - Political Dissent - Terrorism - Religious Protection - Kurdish Independence
  26. 26. Russia - Memes - “Protection of children” - Anti-Putin - Crimea Annexation
  27. 27. China - All content CCP can’t control or influence is blocked - Allows for compliant local variations of social media sites - River Crabs (河蟹), 50 Centers (五毛) and Big Mamas (大妈)
  28. 28. Blocked in China
  29. 29. Designing around censorship - Know if your plugins communicate externally - Ie: Jetpack - Decide if hosting overseas or registering in-country - Run tests around the world: Geopeeker.com - Full SSL could result in full site censorship - PHP 7 is a must - External advertising services and APIs - Consider global CDNs
  30. 30. How do I know if my site is blocked? - Greatfire.org 🇨🇳 - BlockedinIran.org 🇮🇷 - Rublacklist.net 🇷🇺 - CloudMonitor.CA.com 🌍 - Engelliweb.org 🇹🇷
  31. 31. What do I do if my site is blocked? - Check if recourse is available - Move to a new server - Decide on hosting in- country or overseas - Check for noisy neighbors - Check if your domain or IP is blocked - There may be nothing you can do
  32. 32. - Net Neutrality - Walled Gardens/Closed Networks - Continued push for Internet Sovereignty What does the future hold?
  33. 33. John P. Gamboa @jgamboa jpgamboa.com Q&A

Editor's Notes

  • The first thing they think of smog: like this photo from my apartment.
  • 2. They think of the great firewall
  • This is when I realized that the Great Firewall wasn’t quite like your corporate work network that stops you from wasting company hours on Facebook. This was much of complex than that. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of my free time reading and learning about the Great Firewall, and understanding how it affects business, privacy and the global security of the web. I won’t be able to talk about everything I want to, but this is going to be a start.
  • When I was working on that Shanghai Beer Week project in China, there were a few concerns the site owner had about building a site in a closed network. As such, we had to understand the limitations of the environment we were working in. Censorship in China was pervasive, and you had to know the rules of the game. One of the first rules I learned was:
  • In almost all the of the countries I’ve listed, WordPress.org, the website used to acquire the open source WordPress software itself, is not blocked. This is great news for those that are self-hosting their sites in countries that have issues with Internet censorship.
  • Because WordPress now powers 28% of the entire web, it would be an economic barrier from allowing people to use WordPress itself. It’s just a tool in this situation.
  • To understand the limitations we first have to figure out why there are limitations to hosting on WordPress in the first place. The best way to understand internet censorship and WordPress is to understand Internet Sovereignty. The idea that your country’s internet works the same way as your local laws is antithetical to the purpose of the internet, but is also the basis for almost all types of Internet Censorship.
  • Any rationale a country gives for blocking internet content in their country is wrapped up into the idea that it’s sovereign right to do so. So, the question becomes:
  • Iran: US corporate management software used to block websites for the whole country
    Russia: Blocks sites based on complaints and broad legal precedent. Fairly transparent but bad for shared IP customers
    China: A complex system of DNS injections, IP & domain blocks, local content management and legislation
  • Some Walled Gardens provide unequal access. Internet “Fast Lane” for preferred web services. Think: Free Spotify for T-Mobile

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