Usenix/FOCI 2013 - Five incidents, one theme: Twitter spam as a weapon to drown voices of protest

Another year, another Usenix Security Symposium. Like last year, I’ll be presenting a paper at FOCI0 entitled: Five incidents, one theme: Twitter spam as a weapon to drown voices of protest: Social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, have become an impressive force in the modern world with user bases larger than many individual countries. With such influence, they have become important in the process of worldwide politics. Those seeking to be elected often use social networking accounts to promote their agendas while those opposing them may seek to either counter those views or drown them in a sea of noise.

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ISMA 2013 AIMS-5 - DNS Based Censorship

I gave a presentation about research that I’m just starting out studying DNS-based censorship in specific around the world. In particularly, preliminary findings in China have confirmed that the Great Firewall is responding via packet injection to many queries for either Facebook or Twitter (among others). Interestingly, the pool of IPs that they return is consistent yet none of the IPs seem to resolve to anything interesting. In addition, there is fallout in South Korea where some percentage of packets go through China and thus have the same behaviors.

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AIMS-5 - Day 3

Yesterday was the third and final day of AIMS-5. With the main topic being Detection of Censorship, Filtering, and Outages, many of these talks were much more in line with what I know and what I’m working on. I gave my presentation as well, you can see it (along with a link to my slides) down below.

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AIMS-5 - Day 2

Today’s agenda had discussions on Mobile Measurements and IPv6 Annotations, none of which are areas that I find myself particularly interested in. Still, I did learn a few things.

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AIMS-5 - Workshop on Active Internet Measurements

Yesterday was the first of three days for the fifth annual ISC/CAIDA Workshop I went to in Baltimore back in October at least, but even the ones that weren’t have still been interesting.

I’ll be presenting on Friday and I’ll share my slides when I get that far (they aren’t actually finished yet). I’ll be talking about new work that I’m just getting off the ground focusing specifically on DNS-based censorship. There is a lot of interesting ground to cover there and this should be only the first in a series of updates about that work (I hope).

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Decoding escaped Unicode strings

In one of my current research projects involving large amounts of Twitter data from a variety of countries, I came across an interesting problem. The Twitter stream is encoded as a series of JSON objects–each of which has been written out using ASCII characters. But not all of the Tweets (or even a majority in this case) can be represented with only ASCII. So what happens?

Well, it turns out that they encode the data as JSON strings with Unicode escape characters. So if we had the Russian hashtag #победазанами (victory is ours), that would be encoded as such:

"#\u043f\u043e\u0431\u0435\u0434\u0430\u0437\u0430\u043d\u0430\u043c\u0438"

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Usenix/FOCI 2012 - Inferring Mechanics of Web Censorship Around the World

For the next week or so, I’ll be in Seattle attending the Usenix Security Symposium and specifically the FOCI workshop. Why? Because I’m presenting a paper at FOCI. Entitled Inferring Mechanics of Web Censorship Around the World, here’s the abstract: While mechanics of Web censorship in China are well studied, those of other countries are less understood. Through a combination of personal contacts and Planet-Lab nodes, we conduct experiments to explore the mechanics of Web censorship in 11 countries around the world, including China.

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