Chinese authorities are having to grapple with more bad publicity for the “Green Dam-Youth Escort” software that Beijing wants to see included with all PCs sold in China from July 1. Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered major security vulnerabilities in the Internet filtering software, according to this report. The authors say that initial testing of version 3.17 of the Green Dam software found serious security holes, which the authors attributed to programming errors. Worryingly, the report said that once the software is installed, “any Web site the user visits can exploit these problems to take control of the computer. This could allow malicious sites to steal private data, send spam, or enlist the computer in a botnet [a group of software robots that run without a computer owner's knowledge].” The researchers also said that there are security weaknesses in how Green Dam updates its blacklists of Web sites to filter out, which “could allow the software makers or others to install malicious code during the update process.” Noting that these problems were found in under 12 hours of testing, the authors suggest that there may be other issues yet to be identified. The report also links to the several decrypted data files of word lists relating to pornography and the banned Falun Gong sect, adding to concerns that the software could be used for purposes other than blocking pornography. Then there’s the contingent of increasingly vocal Chinese Internet users expressing their opposition to the Green Dam project. At midnight, an online petition was launched to protest pre-installation of the software and calling for an investigation into the procurement process (in Chinese here). At the time of this writing, it had collected over 1,200 e-signatures and many indignant comments, such as “I don’t want to live in 1984″ and “Garbage software! Garbage policy!” Other Web users prefer to subvert Green Dam through mockery. One pun that has been making the rounds substitutes the words for Green Dam (绿坝, pronounced lüba in Mandarin) with homophones that translate as “filter bully” (滤霸) or “donkey king” (驴霸). Internet users have also taken to replacing standard greetings such as “Have you eaten yet?” with “Have you Green Dammed today?” “Youth Escort” has also become something of an Internet catchphrase, meaning to block, filter out, or shut someone up. As in “Stop talking like that, or I’ll ‘youth escort’ you!”My Blog
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