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Thursday, 20 June 2019

Encrypted-messaging service Signal back online after Egypt blocked access

Signal's developers deploy technique called "domain fronting" to ensure the service cannot be blocked without shutting down the internet

Ahram Online , Thursday 22 Dec 2016
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Users of the encrypted instant-messaging and voice-call application Signal were able to access the app on Thursday morning, with the app's developers saying they had re-established the service after it was reportedly blocked in Egypt on Monday.
 
The developers said they have developed a new technique known as "domain fronting" that allows access regardless of attempts at blocking the system. With domain fronting deployed, the only way to block Signal would be to block internet access entirely.
 
"With today's release, domain fronting is enabled for Signal users who have a phone number with a country code from Egypt or the UAE, when those users send a Signal message, it will look like a normal HTTP request to www.google.com. To block signal messages, these countries would also have to block all of google.com," the developers explained.
 
On Monday, Open Whispers Systems, the developer of the encrypted messaging application stated that its app had been blocked in Egypt.
The company added that it would “begin deploying censorship circumvention in Signal over the next several weeks.”
 
Days before this statement was made, Signal users in Egypt, mostly activists, complained on Facebook and Twitter that the application was not working.
 
The company added that it would “begin deploying censorship circumvention in Signal over the next several weeks.”
 
Egyptian authorities have made no official comment on the alleged blocking of the app, a move that may have been motivated by security concerns after a suicide bomb blast in a Cairo Church earlier this month left 26 victims.
 
Officials contacted by Ahram Online declined to comment on the issue.
 
Encrypted software allows users to communicate while avoiding surveillance from third parties, including state bodies and law enforcement.
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