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How to escape internet info-censorship

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On May 30th, 2022, internet access in the Ukrainian city of Kherson stopped working.

They experienced an internet blackout.

Locals who used SkyNet internet provider couldn’t call their family or find out the latest news.

A few hours later, the internet started working again. But most users of SkyNet were unaware that their internet had changed.

The internet traffic handled by SkyNet was now passing through a Russian provider, so it was part of Russia’s online censorship.

In occupied areas, Russia has taken control of servers, cables, and cell phone towers.

Ukrainian companies have been told to send internet traffic through Russian services, or their internet will be shut down.

Of course, Russia isn’t coming out and saying exactly what they are doing.

Instead, they are forcing Ukrainians to use internet services based in regions such as Crimea, an area controlled by Russia.

In areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, there are over 1,200 different internet providers. Most of them have been forced to connect to Russian services.

One cyber security expert said, “Every couple of days, there’s another company getting switched over to Russian transit from Ukraine.”

Since the start of the invasion, disrupting the internet has been a tactic by Russian forces with the goal of controlling the flow of information.

If you are wondering why Ukrainian providers would allow Russia to do this, it’s because they don’t have a choice.

Russian Military personnel are taking physical control of companies, forcing Ukrainian internet employees to reconfigure networks.

For now, Ukrainians in occupied areas will have to deal with their internet access going through Russia.

The Russian government controls everything about the country’s internet. Authorities can read people’s emails, intercept text messages, and watch communications.

One of the reasons that Russia is taking control of the internet is to try to legitimize the occupation.

Plus, the tactics used by Russia could also be a blueprint for controlling the internet in future wars.

Control of the internet is a huge deal. Many countries restrict internet usage, including Russia, China, and North Korea.

And with that much control also comes the ability to shut down the internet altogether, something Russia has threatened to do to companies that won’t cooperate.

The tactic is nothing new. Governments around the world try to hide and control information.

And internet shutdowns can come in many forms.

Considering this, here are a few things you can do if you fall victim to a government internet shutdown whether at home or abroad.

Virtual private networks (VPNs):

A VPN is something you might be already using. VPNs are one of many ways you can protect yourself from cyberattacks.

One way governments control the internet is by blocking local IP addresses from reaching certain websites.

Yet, when you use a VPN your IP address is routed through a remote server located in a different area.

So, it looks like you are accessing the website from a different location or country.

Depending on the country, some governments have blocked VPN use altogether.

This is why you should consider using two different VPNs. If one doesn’t work, there is a chance a different one could.

Use a mesh network:

A mesh network is a created network that functions without the internet. The way it works is that people create a network with others who are in the same physical location.

This could be useful during natural disasters where a large group of people are stranded.

On a mesh network, people can send messages to each other’s devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. This creates a network without an internet connection.

There are smartphone apps such as Bridgefy that can help set up a mesh network.

The only drawback to mesh networks is that they are geographically limited.

Get an international SIM card:

An international SIM card allows you to connect to mobile networks around the world. The idea is that cell phone users will be able to avoid roaming fees from their carriers.

The bad thing about mobile internet is that it’s easy for the provider to shut it down.

But if you have an international SIM card you could likely pick up a mobile network from another country.

Of course, it would depend on how close you are to the neighboring country.

This method for internet connection is often used by foreign journalists.

Shutting down the internet is going to become a more common tactic of governments.

Internet blackouts can prevent people from seeing critical news updates or allow a country to censor and control the flow of information.

You need to start preparing now, so you have a plan in case your internet ever “goes dark.”

These tips will help.

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