Russia: To block Twitter, or not to block Twitter

Russia Map with Twitter Bird

Russia seems to have a conflicted relationship with Twitter and Internet censorship in general.

While trying to portray themselves as open and democratic, they clearly have a real problem with the radical openness of social media like Twitter.

Maxim Ksenzov, deputy head of Roscomnadzor (Russia’s censorship agency), said Twitter is a “global instrument for promoting political information” and that they could block Twitter or Facebook in minutes.

Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev responded on his Facebook account, saying that state officials “sometimes need to turn on their brains” rather than "announcing in interviews the shutdown of social networks.” Which is not quite the same as saying that they would not do so.

The primary desire in Russia is for Twitter and all other social networks to open offices in Russia. That would smooth communications, but also provide leverage to push for censorship or access to data as needed.

Turkey is Tweeting Again!

Boltcutter and chainTurkey Unblocks Twitter After Free-Speech Ruling Yesterday the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled that the blocking of Twitter violated the guarantees of free speech in the Turkish Constitution. The government appears to have acted quickly to remove the blocks on Twitter’s IP addresses as well as the changes to DNS as ordered.

Celebratory tweets are gushing out over the wires.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Turkey Twitter censorship goes from DNS to IP based blocking

Turkey map flag

Turkey has taken their censorship of Twitter to the next level.

Initial blocking was done through DNS, so it could be easily bypassed by using something like Google DNS at

Turkey quickly responded to the masses of people using that workaround, and are now blocking Twitter by IP address.

As one often sees with attempts at censorship, this one was counter productive. It looks like tweets from Turkey actually increased 138% following the DNS block.

Now that the censorship is IP based, a VPN like Anonymizer Universal will be required to continue to access Twitter and any other services that may be blocked.

We continue to test that service from within Turkey, and it looks to be working well. 

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

Turkey blocks Twitter to suppress corruption allegations.

Turkey Anonymous Protest Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the courts have ordered Twitter be blocked completely.

This appears to be in response to Twitter refusing to take down tweets of audio recordings purporting to be of Erdoğan engaging in corrupt activities.

Twitter is suggesting that users fall back to an SMS interface to continue to access the service. I suspect most active Twitter users follow enough people that the feed would overwhelm their SMS plans completely.

A better solution is to use a VPN like Anonymizer Universal to punch a hole through the censorship. Through Anonymizer you would then be able to access Twitter, or any other website the Turkish government might be trying to block.

Update: We have re-confirmed that Anonymizer is still accessible and working from Turkey.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

The Privacy Blog Podcast - Ep. 17: RSA Conference Wrap-up, @N, Bitcoin Fiasco, Apple Security and More

Standard Profile Picture In episode 17 of The Privacy Blog Podcast for February, 2014 I talk about:

  • The just completed RSA Security conference
  • How an email can expose your location
  • A guy who suffered extortion because his username was so valuable.
  • What happened in the latest Bitcoin fiasco
  • Exactly how secure Apple’s iMessage protocol is
  • And finally how insurance companies may drive changes in cyber security

The power we give to Social Media

Last week the Twitter account of the Associated Press was hacked, and a message posted saying that bombs had gone off in the white house, and the president was injured.


Obviously this was false. The Syrian Electronic army a pro regime hacker group has claimed responsibility, which does not prove that they did it.

There is talk about Twitter moving to two factor authentication to reduce similar hacking in the future. While this is all well and good, it will not eliminate the problem.

The bigger issue is that these poorly secured social media sites are used by people around the world as reliable sources of news.

Apparently much of the crash came from automated trading systems parsing the tweet, and generating immediate trades without any human intervention at all.

The DOW dropped 140 points in 5 minutes.

The creators of these trading algorithms feel that news from twitter is reliable enough to be the basis of equity trades without any confirmation, or time for reflection.

Certainly very large amounts of money were made and lost in that short period.

Why make the effort to hack into what we hope is a well defended nuclear power plant or other critical infrastructure, when you can get similar amounts of financial damage from subverting a nearly undefended twitter account.

Because individual twitter accounts are not considered critical infrastructure, they are hardly protected at all, and are not designed to be easy to protect.

Nevertheless we give it, and other social media, substantial power to influence us and our decisions, financial and otherwise.

Take for example the crowd sourced search for the Boston bombers on reddit. Despite the best of intentions, many false accusations were made that had major impact on the accused, and one can imagine scenarios which could have turned out much worse. What if the accused at committed suicide, been injured in a confrontation with authorities, or been the vicim of vigilante action? Now, what if there had been malicious players in that crowd intentionally subverting the process. Planting false information, introducing chaos and causing more damage.


This is an interesting problem. There are no technical or legislative solutions. It is a social problem with only social solutions. Those are often the hardest to address.

App accuses you of piracy using your own Twitter account.

Dictionary apps post false piracy confessions on Twitter - Crave

The Oxford Deluxe dictionary app requests access to your twitter account when it is installed. In some cases it then uses that account to post hundreds of identical tweets saying that you will pledge to stop pirating software.

It is not exactly clear what criteria the software uses, but obviously there is a lot of backlash going on.

Another argument for taking great care about what applications and services you allow to take control of your social media accounts.