Mirrors, and the sheer hopelessness today of blocking websites.
A retweet by Guardian Technology Editor Charles Arthur caught my attention this morning:
RT @AustinHeap “#Wikileaks is averaging 13.9 new mirror sites per hour, or one new mirror every 4′ #censor” So that shutdown went well, eh?
Unless you have no access to media, and in which case you won’t be reading this post, you will have noticed the ongoing wikileaks furore. This is not a post about that subject. Wikileaks’ website is, however, coming under heavy Denial Of Service attack by persons unknown, and the response of its wide community of supporters is to mirror the site to provide alternative access to the content. According to the Wikileaks mirrors website (also blocked but available via IP address) as of 21.55 GMT last night there were 1005 such mirrors.
This does two things. Firstly it shows the futility of trying to block websites (prevention of inadvertent access aka IWF excepted). Secondly it shows the resilience of the internet, a network designed by the US Government to survive nuclear attack. Whilst the source of the DoS attack is probably a matter of conjecture, for those persons who question of the US Government’s approach to law and order it is somewhat ironic that it is this very built resilience is preventing the site from being taken down, or at least keeping the information live.
There are lessons here when we start to consider whether blocking should be applied in other areas such as sites promoting copyright infringement…
5 replies on “The Futility of Blocking Websites #deappg #wikileaks #censor”
For those who can find a copy, John Brunner’s “The Shockwave Rider” (1975)[Lib. of Congress perma-link] has a closing chapter that predicts this sort of thing pretty well.
This is how wikileaks manages to stay on the internet:
I have always wondered why blocking was seen as the solution, rather than taking down the source. It seems that neither measure works terribly well against determined individuals.
You are quite right Pauline. If only certain politicians understood this.
Perhaps someone should make a public delivery of twenty-eight (28) 3440-class magnetic tapes (170MB capacity each) in a large (15″x 15″x 21″ ?) box marked “DVD (equiv.)” to #10 Downing Street with the press in attendance. This would make the point that while old-school technology (reel-to-reel tape) is both bulky and heavy its replacement could be used as a bookmark in a typical hardback book. Also, there are CD(R)’s the size of business cards (50MB capacity) and mini-disks (80mm, ~200MB capacity). Even worse, one doesn’t even need physical media – with a fat enough pipe to the web one could get to a service like RapidShare and move a bunch of files in seconds. So forget blocking – the only cure is via prevention through secure system design and careful vetting of staff.
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