CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Burma

Blog   |   Burma, China, Internet, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Russia, Sweden, Tunisia

Protecting yourself from denial-of-service attacks

It's my second link to a report by Hal Roberts (and others at the Berkman Center) in as many days, but I worry that this this detailed document on denial-of-service (DOS) and hacking attacks on independent media and human rights groups might get missed in the holiday season.

The news headlines in the last few weeks have been full of stories of how DOS attacks can bring down even high-profile websites, often with relatively little technical expertise on behalf of the attackers. Such attacks are nothing new to online journalists across the world, however. Just this year, CPJ has dealt with cases of independent news sites being taken offline by remote Internet attacks in China, Burma, Vietnam, Russia, Kazakhstan, and now Belarus.

The Berkman Center's report details over three hundred other cases from 1998 onwards, from Sweden to North Korea. More important, the researchers interviewed the victims of these attacks, and categorized what defenses were practical and effective -- and what did not work.

If you're an online journalist with powerful opponents, I'd strongly encourage you to read this document and pass it along to your tech-savvy associates. Even a small amount of preparation can help keep vital news and opinion available online when you -- and your readers -- most need it.

December 21, 2010 3:31 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Burma, China, Internet, Thailand

Internet Blotter

November 11, 2010 10:10 AM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Burma, China, Internet, Peru, Turkey

Internet Blotter

November 4, 2010 4:17 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Burma, Internet

The Burmese Internet on the eve of election

Supporters of independent candidate Yan Kyaw attend a campaign rally earlier this month in Yangon for Myanmar's upcoming general elections. (Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

Burma tops CPJ's "10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger." With the scheduled general election in the country approaching, there have been reports of growing interference with both local and exiled journalists. As Burma enters the final stretch of the campaign, CPJ's senior South East Asia representative, Shawn Crispin, give me a brief summary of the online situation:

It does appear that the authorities are deliberately slowing down Internet connections to make it more difficult for journalists to file images and video over the Internet ahead of the upcoming elections.

One foreign reporter I was in touch said she has had increasing difficulty sending photographs out of the country from Rangoon-based Internet cafes. She said there are concerns among local reporters that the regime may shut down the Internet altogether during the actual elections.

Burma's military junta learned lessons from the 2007 Saffron Revolution, when many undercover reporters sent images and videos over the Internet to international and exile-run news organizations. You'll recall then authorities shut down the Internet ahead of the army's armed assault on protestors.

Since then, the authorities have increasingly used the vague and harsh Electronics Act, which broadly bans the unauthorized use of electronic media, including the Internet, to send information outside of the country, to suppress and intimidate reporters who work undercover for foreign or exile run news organizations.

Three Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reporters have recently received harsh prison sentences on charges related to the Electronics Act. Another two await a court verdict in a a case they were charged under the same Act, among others. This is clearly meant to send a signal to reporters that they risk long jail sentences if they send materials over the Internet, including critical news about the upcoming election.

October 28, 2010 11:24 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Burma, China, Internet, Vietnam

Internet blotter

  • The International Telecommunications Union starts its plenipotentiary meeting this week. Some worry that some nations will use their position at the ITU to attempt to grab more control over how the Internet works.
  • RSF covers the Burmese DDOS attacks. I've heard some really fascinating detective work on the real origins of these attacks - hope it gets published soon.
  • Viet Nam's state-owned media launches its own competitor to Facebook. The WSJ says you need to enter their government-issued identity onto the site before they can join.
  • Does the popular Chinese IM client scan personal data? The company's explanation, that it's performing an anti-virus check makes some sense, but somebody needs to look a lot closer.
October 5, 2010 11:48 AM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Burma, Internet

Wordpress: Helping journalists under cyber-attack

Blog hosting site Wordpress.com have just announced a great new feature which is also a simple way that hosting companies can help journalists under attack online. The blogging hosting site now lets you automatically redirect your old Wordpress web address to wherever you move to when you switch blog hosting services. When your readers come to the old site, they get automatically forwarded to your new address. Wordpress.com uses a technique that lets Google and other search engines know you've moved too.

That's not just a good customer relations exercise: it's a vital tool for journalists who have to switch services in a hurry -- not because they want to, but because they're under attack from hackers. In cases like that, it's the hosting service who often "encourages" them to move on before they bring down the rest of their customers.

Controversial news sites, like Russian investigative magazine Novaya Gazeta or, most recently, much of Burma's independent media-in-exile, can get taken off the Net with malicious distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks.

It's not only the targeted web site that gets blown offline by a DDOS. If it's on a shared server, all those other sites may be taken down too. And if the hosting service the news site uses pays for bandwidth, they could be saddled with a huge bill which no-one will be able to pay.

It's not surprising then that many hosting services would rather a controversial website leave than continue to cost them money and threaten their service to other clients.

I wish more big hosts would stand by their customers, but I understand why sometimes they can't. Making the passage when a customer moves onto another, more resilient web hsot, is not something that any company has to do for their clients, and it's not something that all hosts think about. But when you're dealing with independent media that may have to find a new home in a hurry, features like redirects can make all the difference between news sites that keep their readers during a DDOS, and those who lose them forever.

October 5, 2010 11:46 AM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Burma, USA

Burma campaign hits Grand Central

HRW has curated a photo installation highlighting the plight of Burmese dissidents. (HRW)New York’s Grand Central Station is a gathering point today for people who are coming into town from a little farther away than usual: Burmese dissidents, writers, monks, and musicians are convening to protest the military junta of Senior General Than Shwe. Human Rights Watch has organized a petition and an art and photo installation in Vanderbilt Hall that includes "saffron revolution" monks coming in by train from Utica in the afternoon and closing prayers from the All Burma Monks Alliance at 6 p.m.

Blog   |   Burma

Burmese censorship at work

At a Tuesday meeting of the International Freedom to Publish Committee (a publishing industry group dedicated to free expression) in New York, Maureen Aung-Thwin handed out pages from Flower News, a Rangoon-based newspaper that had been marked up by Burmese government censors. Burma is the world’s second most censored country, according to a 2006 CPJ report. But you don’t have to read Burmese to understand what’s going on here. The red marks speak for themselves. Aung-Thwin is the director of the Burma project at the Open Society Institute and one of the world’s leading experts on that country. 

February 24, 2010 12:50 PM ET

Tags:

« 2009 | 2011 »