Feeds

Security holes poked in Chinese compulsory PC filter plan

Green Dam it all

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Plans to mandate the use of a particular brand of censorware software in China pose a grave security risk, security watchers and net privacy activists warn.

All PCs shipped to China from July 1 2009 onwards will be required to bundle a locally brewed application called Green Dam Youth Escort in order to prevent access to "harmful content". The parental control/censorship software, developed by Jinhui Computer System Engineering, will be used to block access to porn as well as politically sensitive content, in conjunction with server-side and ISP-level filters (the so-called Great Firewall of China) already in place.

By creating a software monoculture the Chinese authorities are creating a risk that a vulnerability in the software, providing it was serious enough to allow remote code injection, could be used to create a huge botnet. More subtle flaws might also be used to create targeted attacks on government computers - a factor that is unlikely to pass unnoticed down at the NSA.

And the whole exercise might be of limited use anyway, because early versions of the software work only IE or Google Chrome on Windows. According to collaborative tests, carried out in China and summarised by Global Voices here, the software fails to work with Firefox. The software - already widely deployed in China - is incompatible with Mac or Linux machines.

Other reported problems include suggestions that the Green Dam Youth Escort is a resource hog, might be high maintenance when it comes to applying upgrades, and has been found to inadvertently block course-related material in schools.

Questions are also being asked about the costs of the software, estimated as costing 41m Yuan in the first year.

Isaac Mao, a research fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has uncovered other problems with the software. Communications between the systems at Jinhui and client PC running its Green Dam Youth Escort are unencrypted, leaving the door open for man in the middle attacks and clickstream snooping. It could be the system is designed this way to allow the Chinese government to monitor its citizens.

However, Green Dam maintains that its software is "only a filter", the BBC (citing reports in the official Chinese media last year) reports. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.