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From: etomcat at (Feher Tamas)
Subject: Symantec labels chinese censorship-busting software a Trojan

Dear All,

I feel all AV customers should know about this, even /. it
if you think so! The future is at stake. I urge all people
who value the 1st amendment to send letters of protest.

Sincerely: Tamas Feher from Hungary.

Chinese face new curb on web access
by Mure Dickie, Financial Times, 13 Sept 2004

"A computer program designed to help Chinese internet users
view websites blocked by the government has been designated
a harmful "Trojan horse" virus by software sold by Symantec,
the world's largest computer security company,

The move makes it more difficult to download and use the
widely-used Freegate program and highlights concern about
international companies helping Beijing and other
authoritarian governments restrict access to the internet.

Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT), which developed and
distributes Freegate, said that a number of users had
reported that its newest version had been targeted by
Symantec's Norton-branded anti-virus software.

Freegate and other similar programs allow computer users in
China to circumvent government blocks on foreign websites -
ranging from mainstream western media sites to those of
political reform groups and human rights organisations.

Freegate, which DIT estimates has 200,000 users, allows
users to access blocked websites easily using "proxy
servers" that have frequently changing internet addresses.

Bill Xia, DIT president, said Freegate was included in the
virus definition list of Norton software for both personal
computers and network servers. Inclusion in the list means
the anti-virus software will attempt to remove a targeted
program from any protected computers and prevent it from
being distributed via email.

A Symantec official in Beijing confirmed that Norton's
software had designated Freegate a "Trojan horse", but would
not give details of why it had done so. Mr Xia said he could
think of no reason why Freegate would be considered harmful.

Trojan horses masquerade as harmless software but have a
malicious effect - such as deleting files, allowing a remote
user to access data or hijacking a computer to mount attacks
on someone else's system. "Our program doesn't do anything
like that," said Mr Xia.

China's government has made great efforts to maintain its
ability to block websites considered politically or socially

Symantec labels China censorship-busting software as Trojan
by John Leyden, Theregister, 14 Sept 2004

"Symantec has labelled a program that enables Chinese
surfers to view blocked websites as a Trojan Horse. Upshot?
Users of Norton Anti-Virus cannot access Freegate, a popular
program which circumvents government blocks, the FT reports.

Freegate has 200,000 users, Dynamic Internet Technology
(DIT), its developer, estimates. It lets users view sites
banned by the Chinese government by taking advantage of a
range of proxy servers assigned to changeable internet
addresses. But a recent update to Symantec's AV definition
files means the latest version of Freegate is treated as
malware and removed from systems protected by Norton. Short
of disabling Norton AV, users would have little say in this.

A Symantec staffer in China told the FT that Norton
Anti-Virus identified Freegate as a Trojan horse, but
declined to provide a rationale for such a definition. The
absence of an explanation from Symantec raises concerns. We
hope that the mislabelling of Freegate is a simple mistake,
soon rectified, rather than yet another example of an IT
firm helping Beijing implement restrictions.

History provides as least one example of the AV industry
extending favours to China that it would normally withhold.
AV firms normally keep virus samples under lock and key. But
suppliers agreed to hand over virus samples to the Chinese
government a few years ago as a condition of trading in the
country. These samples could be easily found on the net but
the incident illustrates a precedent of China being treated
as a special exception."

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