The Atlantic

A Trick That Hides Censored Websites Inside Cat Videos

The technique uses popular sites as camouflage for banned ones.
Source: Fjola Dogg Thorvalds / Getty

A pair of researchers behind a system for avoiding internet censorship wants to deliver banned websites inside of cat videos. Their system uses media from popular, innocuous websites the way a high schooler might use the dust jacket of a textbook to hide the fact that he’s reading a comic book in class. To the overseeing authority—in the classroom, the teacher; on the internet, a government censor—the content being consumed appears acceptable, even when it’s illicit.

The researchers, who work at the University of Waterloo’s cryptography lab, named Slitheen after a race of aliens from Doctor Who who wear the skins of their human victims to blend in. The system uses a technique called decoy routing

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
How Berlin Became an Unlikely Home for China’s Artists
The German capital not only offers freedom, but also invites people to provoke and challenge orthodoxy.
The Atlantic9 min read
When You’re in Command, Your Job Is to Know Better
In war, the temptation to take revenge is strong. Fighting that temptation is a commanding officer’s job.
The Atlantic7 min read
Uber’s Drivers and Riders Are Locked in a Pine-Scented Battle
Many passengers can’t stand air fresheners. Drivers say they’re just trying to provide a pleasant ride.