Anonymous Surfing Service Gets Eighty-Sixed
Users of Safewebs free triangle boy service are accustomed to surfing the Web anonymously, but in the latest flare-up between enterprises that want to limit users access to online content and advocates of an unrestricted Net, a Web filtering company now claims it can disable Triangle Boy.
Filtering vendor 8e6 Technologies, whose customers include schools, governments and corporations, has developed a way to intercept -- and block -- Triangle Boy. SafeWeb, which makes the anonymous and encrypted Web access service freely available to anyone, touts it as an anticensorship technology that is especially useful for people in countries such as China where governments actively monitor and restrict Internet access.
Triangle Boy software bypasses Web blocking systems two ways. First, like other Web proxy servers, it sends URL requests - for example, www.pornsite.com - via a third-party proxy server, so the filtering system never sees the intended destination. Second, instead of sending URL requests to a fixed address, Triangle Boy uniquely relays them in a peer-to-peer fashion through the computer of another randomly selected Triangle Boy user out on the Internet.
David Salch, 8e6 Technologies product development manager, declined to explain how its X-Stop filtering system disables Triangle Boy. But he said it does so without decrypting packets. "Triangle Boy was the golden egg of antifiltering technologies, because the destination of packets is totally random," Salch said. "But we were able to filter it based on a slight modification to our software."
Ed Miller, a security operations manager of Computer Sciences Corp., said he installed the anti-Triangle Boy patch on five of 8e6 Technologies X-Stop systems for E.I. du Pont Nemours & Co., a CSC customer whose network generates 15 million URL requests from 65,000 users every day. After testing several iterations of the patch, he said, the most recent one released by 8e6 Technologies effectively blocks
"I knew that if I knew about Triangle Boy, anybody who was really interested in porn would know about it, too," Miller said. Representatives of two other vendors of popular corporate Web filtering systems, SurfControl and Websense, confirmed that they are currently unable to block Triangle Boy, but each said that it is exploring ways to stop it.