BA/MA: Censorship


Various state-actors around the world deploy some degree of censorship. To prevent users from accessing specific websites, they alter, drop, and redirect connection attempts to websites and services they deem malicious. Countries facilitate censorship by inspecting protocols like IP, TPC, HTTP, DNS, TLS, and VPNs. The sophistication of censors varies as much as the techqniues the use. Overall, this leads to a diverse landscape of censorship around the world. In recent years, the analysis of censorship has increased greatly. Automated tools for global censorship analysis and circumvention have been intruduced together with country specific in-depth analyses.

To aid in this acquisition of knowledge, we want to ascertain censorship techniques and the circumventability of censorship around the globe. This includes both country-specific analyses and new circumvention or analysis techniques. Below, we gather potential thesis topics.

TSPU export Since 2019, Russia has been forcing internet service providers to built dedicated censorship devices into their networks: the TSPU. The TSPU allows the Russian goverment to achieve a centralized censorship system through decentralized deployments of hardware. This system already showed its functionality when Russia throttled Twitter in 2021. As these devices are forced upon Russian ISPs it is very much possible that they are being exported to ISPs in other countries. In the past, Russia has indeed exported surveillance tech and information control systems to other countries. In this thesis, you will analyze post-soviet states and countries which have previously received russian information security technology. You will determine whether the censorship behavior in the analyzed countries is similar to that in Russia and whether this indicates a possible export of the TSPU.

Censorship in Marginally Analyzed Countries In recent years, some countries have been analyzed more thoroughly than others. Prime examples are the censors of Russia, China, and India. However, censorship occurs in many countries around the globe. In this thesis, you will focus censorship analysis on one or few countries that have not been analyzed thoroughly up until now. You will also compare the censorship techniques you encounter with those of more thoroughly analyzed censors.

None of these topics interest you but you still want to analyze censorship in your thesis? Feel free to contact us with own ideas. We can try to find a topic together!

Requirements (usually):
- Programming, Java, Kotlin, Python
- Knowledge of DNS, HTTP, Network Stack (TCP/IP)
- Interest in censorship (circumvention)

Who to message:
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Juraj Somorovsky, Niklas Niere or Felix Lange

Further information :