New Solution For Breaking Through China’s Great Firewall
While the Chinese government invests its time and resources on Internet censorship at a massive scale, individuals in the country continue to create simple hacking solutions that give them free access to information. A new blow to the nationwide online blackout, dubbed by many as the Great Firewall, has surfaced in the form of a small Raspberry Pi computer.
A Reddit user going by JaiPasInternet recently posted a technique that involves turning the simple single-chip Raspberry Pi into a wi-fi hotspot. The user connected to a virtual private network (VPN) in France through the open-source software OpenVPN. VPNs, used by many companies to allow their employees to connect to private networks when they are not in the office, are also crucial tools for uncensored Internet access overseas and peer-to-peer Internet privacy anywhere. OpenVPN allows users to authenticate the peers who are helping them connect. This extra encryption is a powerful tool for overcoming firewalls, as China is increasing its attack on foreign VPNs by programming its security system to discover and block such networks. While some protocols for VPNs have been discovered and shut down in China, there are still others that offer free access to information.
With the Raspberry Pi chip connected to a VPN, the user JaiPasInternet simply plugged the device into a wi-fi dongle, setting up a hotspot like any Internet cafe. The software daemon hostapd helped create the hotspot connection. The Reddit user said that although it took some time initially to connect to the VPN server, the connection was strong and consistent once established.
JaiPasInternet continues to successfully use this technique to out-fox the firewall in China:
“I use it on a daily basis with my iPhone and Android tablet (way better than the included VPN client) but the good thing is that, wherever I go, I just bring my Raspberry, plug it into ethernet and to any usb plug, and after a few minutes, I have my censor-free Wi-Fi hotspot.”
The Reddit poster also claims that this method is relatively easy to set up, citing an ELinux Wiki page that gives instructions for the technique.
The Raspberry Pi method makes the Internet user and the overseas VPN client much more difficult for authorities to track and shut down, essentially hiding the activity. As word spreads about the ease of this method, there may be many more users in China with unlimited access to websites like Twitter, Facebook, and any number of Western news media sites — at least until the Great Firewall develops a new tracking method, causing hackers in China to scramble for a new solution for their delivery of free information.