Our Mission

A force multiplier refers to a factor that dramatically increases the effectiveness of a group. The Internet is a force multiplier for the Iranian opposition. Our mission is to help ensure that the Internet remains available to them and to help them take advantage of it.

Here's a brief summary of what we're trying to accomplish. Join us in doing the following three simple things:
  1. Defeat Government Web Filters: Protesters need Web proxies. A tor relay is a special type of Web proxy. Encourage everyone to set up Tor relays and set one up yourself: http://bit.ly/1agCMj Yes, there are other ways to get around the government filters, but we're concentrating our efforts on Tor.
  2. Preserve Internet Availability: Network bandwidth is a precious commodity for the opposition. DDoS attacks waste that bandwidth without offering any strategic advantage. Follow tweets and watch for people calling for DDoS attacks against Iranian government Web sites. Reply to them with this message or something similar: DDoS (pagereboot) hurts. Here's why: http://bit.ly/Jc6s7 To help, set up Tor relay: http://bit.ly/1agCMj
  3. Provide Useful Information and Encouragement: Be very careful what you re-tweet, always check the links. Think about why you are posting the message. What do you hope to accomplish? How does the message contribute to the cause? Is it actionable information or just speculation? Does it encourage the reader or does it promote fear and doubt?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brief Introduction to Tor and Why it's important

The Problem:
Iranian citizens cannot reach certain Web sites to share election news or otherwise communicate with the rest of the World. This is because the government has set up filters that block those certain Web sites (twitter, facebook, youtube, etc.).

The filters work by dropping connections that are bound for certain IP addresses or hostnames. Let's say that someone in Iran wants to connect to www.twitter.com. Their computer will figure out the IP address of Twitter, which is, and then will attempt to connect to that IP address. However the Iranian government's Web filter has a rule that says traffic to is not allowed.

The Solution:
The way around this filtering is to allow that person in Iran to connect to a different IP address that is not blocked by the government filter. The computer that hosts this different IP address is what we call a Web proxy. The proxy, which is not in Iran, makes a connection to twitter on behalf of the user in Iran. The proxy allows the user in Iran to freely use Twitter or some other Web site until the government realizes they need to block the proxy IP address. This is why we constantly need new proxy IP addresses.

Where Tor fits in and why it's better than a conventional proxy:
Tor is a special kind of network that offers proxy services that are distributed around the globe with many computers sharing the load. This allows for great performance, efficiency, and anonymity. There are three roles that members or "nodes" in the Tor network can play. Entry nodes to which users connect, relays that forward traffic from node to node, and exit nodes that connect to the destination Web sites. When you set up a regular Web proxy and send someone in Iran the IP address, you act as all three, entry point, relay, and exit point. As soon as the Iranian government learns your IP address the whole operation is ruined. But with Tor, you can act as a relay or as an exit node (or both) without the Iranian governement ever knowing your IP address, and even if they did, they still couldn't filter the traffic. The entry nodes require publishing their IP addresses so those can be filtered, and that's why we need new Tor bridges all the time (a Tor bridge is a special type of entry node).

What you can do:
You can run a Tor relay or a Tor bridge on your computer. We need relays because the more relays we have, the more resilient the network becomes. We need bridges because these are the entry points for the citizens in Iran so that they can get around the filters. We must constantly set up new bridges to replace the ones that the Iranian government blocks.

How to do it:
Instructions are posted here:

NOTE: If you set up a Tor bridge I recommend you e-mail the IP address, port number and key to "vanhavaris (at) gmail dot com", "tor (at) austinheap dot com" and "irancurtain (at) iansbrain dot com" Be sure to note in the e-mail that it is a Tor bridge and not a regular proxy. Don't under any circumstances post it publicly anywhere, including Twitter or a Web page.

I hope this is more helpful than it is confusing. The bottom line is that Web proxies are absolutely critical to help Iranians share their struggles with the World. The best sort of Web proxy for this purpose is Tor. It's very easy for almost anyone with a computer to take part in the Tor network.