Breaking the Great Firewall of China: Sentinel dVPN and SOCKS5

Since the inception of Peer to Peer Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) in 1996, protecting the security and privacy of user data on the internet became an industry in itself. The need to prevent probing governments, hackers, and corrupt corporations from phishing for user data via internet connections became a reality - and VPN services provided the solution.

A VPN (virtual private network) offers its users the ability to remotely connect to a private network over a public connection. In recent years VPN services have also added 2-way anonymity for users into their protocols as standard practice. These two features in tandem have the ability to secure internet connections from external breaches, prevent hacking and malware, as well as hide users’ locations and unlock geo-restricted content. Imagine an impenetrable tunnel that connects your computer to the internet. Data which streams through that tunnel is visible only to your computer, and the computer or website you are logging on to. A VPN IS that tunnel.

What’s the Problem?

Along with protecting its users with anonymity and impenetrability, one of the strongest selling points of a VPN service is to act tactfully where there is imbalance in internet regulation laws.

Some examples are :

  • To circumvent the ban of popular VOIP services by all Middle-Eastern governments.
  • To circumvent “The Great Firewall of China.” A content blocking service launched by the Chinese Government
  • To bypass Egypt’s OpenVPN ban
  • To use/communicate via Telegram, a messaging app that’s banned in Russia

A history of internet regulation in China

As new technologies naturally integrate into our daily lives, lawmakers and legislators have written laws regulating internet use. While each country has different boundaries, the Chinese Government operates the most extensive Internet censorship regime in the world. Censorship began early, in 1996, after China passed two bills banning the transmission of “sensitive content.” China had only enjoyed two years without internet censorship.

From 2000 through 2010, China continued to pressure companies such as Google, MSN, Yahoo, and CISCO to implement its harsh censorship laws - even going as far as to divulge information and reveal identities of the people sourcing the sensitive content. This bullying led to the eventual exit of Google from China in 2011 along with Google Campus’s subsequent transfer to an uncensored site at Hong Kong.

China’s latest move in 2018 to block VPN services entirely has come as a complete surprise to the VPN industry. Most Chinese companies rely on VPN services to talk to their international counterparts; millions of academics used it to access educational research and content hosted on US websites. This move by the Chinese government threatens to impede the progress of the nation severely. China has implied that this move is permanent.

This stands in the way of China’s academics, engineers, and doctors - among many who rely on VPN services to get around this inconvenience. For years, VPNs have provided the white collar workforce along with the average consumer a portal to access and communicate freely.

Censorship Challenges

Adversities faced by the corporations and citizens alike

These restrictions online cause real problems for business owners:

  • Constant monitoring of company traffic, including business secrets and delicate information by the government.
  • Companies are forced to hire proofreaders to check content published and remove sensitive information.
  • No means to communicate securely from Chinese mainland due to the blockage of VPNs.
  • Auto-blocking of keywords by the ministry of telecom, thereby preventing SEO.

As bad as the government restrictions are for business, the most effected is the average Chinese user:

  • The Government monitors citizen’s conversations (which only take place on allowed channels such as Weibo). Censors who monitors this data and quickly delete controversial data and keywords. A study conducted in 2011 reported this number at 16% of all conversations!
  • China censors events that threaten the government such as the Urumqi riots of 2009 and the death of the Human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. China maintains no records of these events via regular channels.
  • Discussion forums, which are entirely different from social media, are often shut down.
  • Searching for banned keywords such as “the Great Firewall of China” may shut down your connection at anytime and prevent re-establishing the connection for several minutes.

The need for a viable solution to centralized VPN (cVPN)

Following the Chinese government’s precarious stance on VPNs, there is a considerable demand for a solution that cannot be shut down or blocked from a central point of control.

Solving this cascading issue in China is just one of the many benefits of the dVPN by Sentinel. The dVPN (decentralized VPN) much like a regular cVPN starts by offering anonymity and impenetrability. Furthermore, by implementing new blockchain technology, Sentinel does not have a central server that a government can target and block .The key feature that sets us apart is our decentralized “user-hosted nodes” which protect a secure and anonymous connection to the internet from anywhere in the world.

How does the Sentinel dVPN work?

Going back to the analogy of tunnels; a dVPN creates tunnels between your computer and every node on the network. Based on consensus derived from a universal set of rules, every node on the network becomes responsible for assessing if the data that has passed through is unaltered.

Prepared for the most advanced cyber attacks, the Sentinel dVPN network can detect even the smallest alteration of the data from hackers or sense time delays by government re-routers. Other nodes in the network pick up these errors immediately and isolate or deny traffic from such nodes in the future.

Connecting via a proxy server solves the problem of speed and geographic freedom. To enable encryption, Sentinel uses a secure proxy protocol called SOCKS5. SOCKS5 uses the SSH and RSA based encryption protocols, to enable users to transfer data securely with authentication over a proxy server. This is much more secure when compared to earlier versions of SOCKS.

Although China has strong laws to prevent VPN’s from proliferating in their internet cyberspace, with 1.38 Billion people, it remains a sea of opportunity for investing into sanctioned alternatives to internet freedom.

Restricted sites are blocked by China’s Great Firewall.
Using Sentinel SOCKS5, the user is able to bypass the Great Firewall.

First network of SOCKS5 Proxy Servers on the Blockchain

Although VPN users’ primary interest in VPN is privacy, a growing number of users have unique requirements in mind:

Speed

  • To alleviate the speed drop of VPNs
  • To access and maintain persistent connections to destinations on the clear and dark web

Freedom from geographic localization

  • To be able to access region-specific content on various streaming services
  • To be able to work on content using the same

Application specific access

  • You may configure SOCKS5 proxies to route traffic of specifically one application or can be configured for the entire system
  • Due to the support of protocols other than HTTP(S), SOCKS5 works with protocols like UDP and is fast during p2p UDP-based communication/file exchange.

Proxy Servers for speed and geographic independence

At the onset of VPN technology, users would connect and route their data via proxy servers. Users would maintain good speeds and their IP would be endemic to the location of the proxy server.

Advantages of a SOCKS5 based VPN over a regular VPN

  • Speed due to dedicated tunnel and port. You may switch the message sending protocol in real-time for the same.
  • Less interference from ISP’s and third parties.

SOCKS5 takes the advantages of using a proxy server and makes it better with encryption. Sentinel takes the advantages of using SOCKS5 proxy servers and makes it bulletproof by using the Ethereum blockchain and incentivize hosts.

How Sentinel takes SOCKS5 further?

Understanding the limitations

  1. The main flaw in SOCKS5 encryption that it creates a single point of failure: the proxy server that you connect to may fail.
  2. Another flaw in SOCKS5 encryption is that though the data isn’t visible, the volume of traffic is still visible to third parties.

Through its blockchain based solutions, Sentinel addresses both of these problems by using a distributed network over SOCKS5 authentication. This means that there is no single point of failure, no single node knows your IP, and each node has limited information about you and your encrypted traffic.

The Sentinel network implements multiple protocols to keep intruders and third-party snooping away. The simple fact that it functions as a distributed network severely deters hacking and snooping.

Sentinel SOCKS5 under testing.

Advantages of Sentinel’ SOCKS5 VPN over regular VPN

  • Blazing speed advantages of SOCKS5
  • The trust-less, failure proof, distributed nature of blockchain technology
  • Sentinel’s industry-leading, proven, encryption protocols
  • Growing network of international SOCKS5 nodes
Sentinel’s SOCKS5 offers many advantages over traditional OpenVPN.

Potential stakeholders for the blockchain’s first SOCKS5 VPN

  1. People who wish to torrent and use peer to peer file sharing securely
  2. Users preferring speed & bandwidth primarily
  3. People wishing to view their favorite content streaming services while traveling
  4. People wishing to mask their actual location like whistle-blowers, journalists, activists and anyone that cares about privacy in general
  5. Users wishing to keep their ISP’s and malicious websites away from snooping on their data

Conclusion

In an age of cyber attacks and hacker-influenced elections, China’s intricately constructed firewall is just an example of a feat of engineering which serves a regime of dis-empowerment. What services like Sentinel Security look to provide globally are solutions to power-hungry and lopsided struggles surrounding Internet censorship. Political shifts and some economic uncertainty have created a massive rise in demand for a solution that works. Sentinel’s dVPN coupled with SOCK5 technology, provides not only security and anonymity, but also delivers the speed and geographical sovereignty that will best serve the world.

About Sentinel

Sentinel employs a multi-chain architecture to secure data and exchange resources between people and applications — Legacy, Enterprise Apps, Mobile Apps, and dApps. Sentinel has developed the first working blockchain bandwidth resource monitoring and on-chain payment gateway mechanism.

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Interoperable Network Layer for bandwidth sharing and incentivization. Developed the Sentinel dVPN on the Sentinel Network — More about us, https://sentinel.co