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Japan Offers Springboard Over Great Firewall

Japan Offers Springboard Over Great Firewall

Today in international tech news: Japan launches a VPN service that could help Chinese netizens; The White House calls out China on cyberespionage (while walking a diplomatic tightrope); and a Vancouver hack-off can't penetrate Google's Chrome OS.

By David Vranicar TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
03/12/13 9:25 AM PT

Researchers at Japan's University of Tsukuba grad school have launched a virtual private network that could allow Chinese netizens to get around the country's zealous Internet police.

The VPN is free and utilizes volunteers who have different Internet service providers around the world. As of early Tuesday morning, there were 87 public VPN servers being offered.

Part of the Tsukuba platform's strength is that it supports SSL-VPN (SoftEther VPN) protocol, L2TP/IPsec, Open VPN and Microsoft SSTP protocol. Translated into English, that means the service offers Chinese Web users better options than OpenVPN, a type of VPN that China has more or less shut down.

Another strength: The service is free. The cost of such systems, up to US$100 a year, can be steep for Chinese citizens.

Tsukuba implores people in Internet-blocking countries to disseminate the access information in blogs, message boards and anywhere else people might see it.

Chinese perceptions of Japan are, for historical reasons, not good. Perhaps, though, such benevolent VPNing could earn Japan some brownie points (with citizens, that is -- don't expect Beijing to offer any thank-yous.)

[Source: Tech In Asia and The Register]

White House Responds to Chinese Hacking

In the wake of a recent report implicating the Chinese military in a lengthy cyberespionage campaign against the U.S., National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said that China must stop stealing data from U.S. computer networks and agree to "acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace."

Over the weekend, China loudly denied that its military was involved in cyberattacks on the U.S. Donilon, in turn, demanded that China recognize hacking as a major problem and commit to stopping it.

President Obama made references to international cyberespionage in his 2013 State of the Union address, but this is the first time the White House has explicitly and publically pointed the finger at China.

China has refused to so much as acknowledge its cyberespionage; it could, theoretically, be telling the truth, but a mounting pile of evidence suggests otherwise. The U.S. and China, however, do have common ground -- each is promoting the establishment of global standards.

American officials are walking a diplomatic tightrope with China. The U.S. wants China to help in pressuring North Korea on its nuclear program, and also join in sanctions against Iran. Perhaps as a nod to diplomacy, Donilon did not mention the People's Liberation Army, which has been at the center of hacking allegations against China.

[Source: The New York Times]

Chrome Steeled Against Hackers

Participants in a hacking contest at the CanWest security conference in Vancouver failed to break into Google's Chrome OS.

The test piece of machinery was a Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook, which was running the most recent version of Chrome. The hackers were invited to use any software on the computer to find a backdoor. Despite a bounty of more than $3 million, they failed to do so.

"Winners" would have been expected to explain to Google the code they used, the search company said, as well as the vulnerabilities exposed in the attack.

Events like the hacking contest help keep users safe, said a Google spokesperson. And, of course, also provide a modicum of good press.

[Sources: Phys.org via The Guardian]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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