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[liberationtech] Network surveillance

Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb ei8fdb at
Thu Jun 6 09:08:26 PDT 2013

Hash: SHA1

On 5 Jun 2013, at 23:38, Eric S Johnson wrote:

> I've heard that a lot (especially "it's the Chinese") but found very little
> evidence to support such allegations. 

There is OONI ( Open Observatory of Network Interference which is a Tor Project which is looking at proving network surveillance and fingerprinting it. (Along with a lot more). I would suspect this could/can help identifying the interference (surveillance, censorship) but I do not know yet if it can/will identify vendor. Since Jacob Appelbaum is on the list, I would not wish to comment incorrectly. Maybe he could correct me.

> In Addis last fall, was told by a source with some inside information that
> the Ethiopian state's cybersurveillance software came from Israel.
> The pictures which rebels shot of the Libyan cybersurveillance center's
> equipment (after the Gaddafi government fell) identified it as having been
> delivered as part of a (Chinese) ZTE contract.

There were other vendors involved also (I've seen pictures Huawei user devices for their WiMax service being sold and used) but certainly ZTE was providing monitoring centre equipment.

> It does seem reasonable to suppose almost any cybersurveillance system is
> based on high-speed routers, which almost by definition came from one of a
> very small number of suppliers (Cisco, ZTE, Huawei?).

To carry out large scale surveillance certain level of hardware/software is needed, carrier-grade equipment, and there are a certain number of these types of companies - certainly Cisco, ZTE, Huawei, ///, NSN, Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper and a few others. 

Then there are the "network management" hardware vendors - the Bluecoats, F5, Redback, etc. 
These are not carrier network infrastructure, but certainly are carrier grade. 

By carrier grade I mean "hardware and software that meets certain level of quality, reliability telco operators are willing to put into their networks.

The point is (for me at least): this is no longer an industry of "the big" guys. Anyone can now become a surveillance manufacturer. A beefy Linux blade server running open source network management tools (essentially what Bluecoat is).

Hope that helps.


>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: liberationtech-bounces at [mailto:liberationtech-
>> bounces at] On Behalf Of Richard Brooks
>> Sent: 06 June 2013 5.07
>> To: liberationtech at
>> Subject: [liberationtech] Network surveillance
>> Just talked with a lot of people who think network surveillance
>> equipment in their countries are being bought from either
>> Israelis or Chinese. It seems that they are competing for
>> market share. Was not aware of Israeli companies working in this
>> space.
> --
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