Hadara Palestine

ooni_test: HTTP Host

country: Palestine

provider: Hadara, Paltel

product: Squid

product_website: http://www.squid-cache.org/

censorship method: Transparent HTTP proxy

downloads:

This is the technical report on the politically motivated censorship going on in Bethlehem, West Bank.

These are the networks in question:

inetnum:         82.205.96.0 - 82.205.103.255
netname:         GZ-HOME-BR1
descr:           GAZA BSA HOME
country:         PS
admin-c:         WK4085-RIPE
tech-c:          HT1472-RIPE
status:          ASSIGNED PA
mnt-by:          Palnet-mnt
source:          RIPE # Filtered

inetnum:         212.106.88.0 - 212.106.95.255
netname:         RA-HM-ASR-02
descr:           Hadara Ramallah BSA
country:         PS
admin-c:         WK4085-RIPE
tech-c:          HT1472-RIPE
status:          Assigned PA
mnt-by:          Palnet-MNT
source:          RIPE # Filtered

The technique being used to restrict access to content is a transparent HTTP proxy. What this does is intercept every HTTP request being made and process it internally. If the content is cached it will serve the cached version of the content. If the content is to be blocked it will serve a blocked page.

We developed a test that opens a connection on port 80 towards a known unrestricted host. Keep in mind that it’s irrelevant to what destination the connection is opened because the transparent HTTP proxy will intercept all HTTP requests, meaning that all clients are in reality always only speaking to the proxy. Once we have a connection open we do HTTP GET requests with a changed Host header field. If the result is the block page then the content is restricted.

We have identified two different block pages that were interchanged at a certain point during our tests:

First block page

HTTP/1.0 403 Forbidden
Server: squid
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 05:47:10 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Length: 21
Connection: close

Sorry, Access Denied

Second block page

HTTP/1.0 403 Forbidden
Server: squid
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2012 20:55:34 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Length: 2205
Connection: close

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
<html>
    <head>
        <meta http-equiv="Content-type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
        <title>ERROR: The requested URL could not be retrieved</title>
        <style type="text/css">
            #logo {
                margin: 0 auto;
                display: block;
            }
            hr {
                height: 1px;
                border: none;
                background: gray;
                margin: 1em 0;
            }
            h1 {
                padding: 0;
                font-size: 1.5em;
                margin: 0;
            }
            h2 {
                padding: 0;
                font-size: 1.2em;
                margin: 0 0 1em 0;
            }
            body {
                font-family: sans-serif;
                padding: 1em 0;
            }
            #content {
                margin: 0 auto;
                max-width: 800px;
                border: 1px solid gray;
                background: #eee;
                padding: 1em 2em;
                -moz-border-radius: 16px;
            }
        </style>
    </head>
    <body>
        <div id="content">

        <h1>ERROR</h1>
        <h2>The requested URL could not be retrieved</h2>
        <hr/>

<P>
While trying to retrieve the URL:
<A HREF="http://fateh-voice.ps/">http://fateh-voice.ps/</A>
<P>
The following error was encountered:
<UL>
<LI>
<STRONG>
Access Denied.
</STRONG>
<P>
Access control configuration prevents your request from
being allowed at this time.  Please contact your service provider if
you feel this is incorrect.
</UL>
<P>Your cache administrator is <A HREF="mailto:webmaster">webmaster</A>.
        </div>
    <!--
  -- Unfortunately, Microsoft has added a clever new
  -- feature to Internet Explorer.  If the text in
  -- an errors message is too small, specifically
  -- less than 512 bytes, Internet Explorer returns
  -- its own error message.  Yes, you can turn that
  -- off, but *surprise* its pretty tricky to find
  -- buried as a switch called smart error
  -- messages  That means, of course, that many of
  -- Resins error messages are censored by default.
  -- And, of course, youll be shocked to learn that
  -- IIS always returns error messages that are long
  -- enough to make Internet Explorer happy.  The
  -- workaround is pretty simple: pad the error
  -- message with a big comment to push it over the
  -- five hundred and twelve byte minimum.  Of course,
  -- thats exactly what youre reading right now.
//-->
</body></html>

From the response headers of a blocked page we are able to learn that the software being used is Squid.

We scanned more than 1 million hostnames and only detected censorship on 8 of these. The full scan results are available in an unredacted from here

At a certain point we decided to go for a high level of parallelism and not care about timeout errors. This is because the transparent HTTP proxy is intercepting our request and making them for us. This means that if a certain hostname is to be blocked it will reply with the block page instantenously without processing it. If the site is in the blocklist a connection attempt to it will never timeout.

What this means, though, is that sites blocked with some more sophisticated techniques would not have been detected. Though by seeing the kind of setup that was deployed in this case we find it unlikely that access to content would be restricted with some more advanced setup and that they would be using a mix between squid transparent HTTP proxy censorship and other.

The sites whose access is being restricted access to are:

http://pal-home.net

http://pal-home.net

http://milad.ps

http://milad.ps

http://karamapress.com

http://karamapress.com

http://inlightpress.com

http://inlightpress.com

http://fpnp.net

http://fpnp.net

http://fateh-voice.ps

http://fateh-voice.ps

http://amad.ps

http://amad.ps

For more details on the political implications check see the article by George Hale on Ma’An News