Salmon: Robust Proxy Distribution for Censorship Circumvention

Authors: Frederick Douglas (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Rorshach, Weiyang Pan (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Matthew Caesar (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Volume: 2016
Issue: 4
Pages: 4–20

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Abstract: Many governments block their citizens’ access to much of the Internet. Simple workarounds are unreliable; censors quickly discover and patch them. Previously proposed robust approaches either have non-trivial obstacles to deployment, or rely on lowperformance covert channels that cannot support typical Internet usage such as streaming video. We present Salmon, an incrementally deployable system designed to resist a censor with the resources of the “Great Firewall” of China. Salmon relies on a network of volunteers in uncensored countries to run proxy servers. Although any member of the public can become a user, Salmon protects the bulk of its servers from being discovered and blocked by the censor via an algorithm for quickly identifying malicious users. The algorithm entails identifying some users as especially trustworthy or suspicious, based on their actions. We impede Sybil attacks by requiring either an unobtrusive check of a social network account, or a referral from a trustworthy user.

Keywords: Censorship

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