Proxies and DDoS Attacks: Internet 2, Ayatollahs 0

Monitoring the Twitter tags #iranelection and #iranproxy shows some pretty historic interplay between the unrest on the ground in Iran and the modern social media fabric.  Iran can’t shut off the internet in the country, as too much of its economy is dependent upon it. So the clerics who rule Iran and to whom the President answers, have blocked sites such as Twitter in order to attempt to prevent messaging from getting out while the police and army attempt to brutally put down the insurrection.

The blocking is not working.

1) Proxies:  The blockages are implemented as a list of IP addresses that the government makes unreachable from inside Iran.  But techs around the world are offering up proxy servers as relays for Iranians to use, and new ones are showing up on Twitter at the rate of one every three to five minutes.  A proxy is a relay that the clerics don’t know about that Iranians can use to get to sites that have been blocked by the ayatollahs.  The clerics’ tech crew may run around blocking these relays by adding them to the country-wide ban, but they probably can’t keep up with this many addresses at this rate of introduction.  Twittering has therefore NOT been cancelled in Iran, despite what the clerics have attempted.

2) DDoS Attacks:

RT @brookenchain ATTACK LINK TO IRIB: http://tinyurl.com/nyutjc open and keep it refreshing till looks unreachable pleasTHANX! #iranelection

Not only has outound contact been maintained, but the election “winner” Mahmoud Amahdinajad’s own websites have been blown off the web by twitterers.  Tweets such as the above are distributed denial-of-service attacks upon Irib, an official website of Amahdinajad.  The link leads to a auto-refresher that’s ponited at the targeted website, and refreshes itself once a second.  Send this link out to a zillion twitterers, and bye-bye target under a flood of bogus traffic.  There is no defense against this since the attack comes from all over the net.  And tweets against this and other official Amahdinajad sites have been coming many per minute.

At this time, unrest is reported (mainly on Twitter — no, don’t wake up from your nap, CNN) all across Iranian cities and the situation is touch and go.

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rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

@warmowski on twitter

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Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
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2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende

Rob at Huffington Post

June 2009

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