Four months have passed since the Belarusian authorities began filtering the Internet with the help of the Sandvine DPI complex.In that time, the network Psiphon Pumped 4.81 petabytes of data from Belarusian users, told Psiphon president and co-founder Michael Hall.
Psiphon is designed specifically to combat Internet censorship in authoritarian and totalitarian states. The network uses a combination of secure communication and obfuscation technologies (VPN, SSH and HTTP proxy).
In August 2020, Psiphon had almost 2.5 million users from Belarus – about one-third of the entire adult population country.
Today, Belarus is one of the world leaders in the number of VPN and proxy installations on smartphones. As practice has shown, Psiphon works more reliably than other tools. Sometimes even Tor bridges were not available and Psiphon worked :
"Psiphon currently has nine configurable protocols designed to bypass all kinds of blocking, " Hall said. – Undoubtedly, DPI is the new generation of filtering, which is the most sophisticated to date because it [filtering] is done in real time. However, Psiphon was able to obfuscate and bypass the DPI filtering system that has been implemented in Belarus and is the main reason why Psiphon is so widely used. Other VPN services are simply not prepared to deal with such complex challenges."
Psiphon became widely known to Belarusians in August 2020. It is still popular today, but now the peak of use is on Sundays. For example, only on December 6, when the last protest march took place so far, Belarusian users connected to Psiphon 1.234 million times.
Then, when the Internet was turned off only on Sundays, there were fewer active users, but the numbers are still impressive. In November, for example, more than 312 thousand Belarusians used Psiphon.
On "peaceful days" the number of connections in Belarus fluctuates around 100-300 thousand, and peaks on Sundays.
"Belarus uses virtually every blocking technique available, " Hall says. – There’s no point in listing them all, as they are all interconnected. So far, however, everything used for Internet censorship in Belarus has been circumvented."
According to a Bloomberg investigation, Belarus uses DPI equipment manufactured by the American company Sandvine, which was sold by the Russian company Infosystems Jet. After the scandal, Sandvine denied technical support and updates to the DPI complex, but the authorities continue to use it.
The Belarusian authorities tried to purchase DPI equipment by tender at the end of 2018, the cost was supposed to be $2.5 million. However, they ended up buying it without any tenders. How much they spent is unknown.
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