What is Shadowsocks and how does it work? | TechBuzz

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Unfortunately, internet censorship is becoming more prevalent today. In Europe, the situation is (still) not critical, but we already have the opportunity to see how certain social networks easily restrict access to some of their users, if there is any suspicion that the user in some way “violates the rules of the community.”

If you want to get away from internet censorship, one interesting option is something called “Shadowsocks”. Not only is this name intriguing, but it also promises to circumvent almost all the barriers that exist on the internet. Let’s see what this protocol can and cannot do.

which is Shadowsocks

What is Shadowsocks?

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Shadowsocks is a linking tool that allows you to circumvent censorship. In China, it is widely used by people who want to pass the tunnel under the Great Firewall, a digital barrier that protects the Chinese Internet from foreign influence, because it is completely free, although you will need some technical knowledge to set it up.

In fact, Shadowsocks is so good at breaking Chinese blocs that there is a good reason for it through another tool, virtual private networks (VPNs). Not only is using Shadowsocks free, but it also hides traffic a little better than VPNs or virtual private networks. However, before we get into any details, let’s move on first to where Shadowsocks comes from.


Who developed the Shadowsocks?

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Shadowsocks was developed by a Chinese developer known only as “clowwindy”, who in 2012 put the initial commit (version of the program or script) on GitHub. The protocol was a great success and clowwindy continued to work on it for several years, as did the development of a free VPN called ShadowVPN.

However, in 2015, Clowwindy left a message on GitHub stating that the police had found him and asked him to stop working on the Shadowsocks and, presumably, ShadowVPN. He was also forced to delete the code on GitHub and had no choice but to listen. He added that “I hope to one day live in a country where I will have the freedom to write any code without fear of persecution.”

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What happened to Clowwindy?

After this last message, Clowwindy did not specifically appear on the Internet. According to this blog post, after clowwindy received a “tea invitation” (an expression with roughly the same level of threat as the KGB’s infamous “friendly conversation”), messages briefly appeared on the Internet claiming everything was fine , after which the person (or persons) disappeared from the Internet.

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Fortunately, however, Clowwindy’s work has not been pushed to the dustbin of history. Instead, a team of enthusiasts continued their work and continued to work on the Shadowsocks. At the time of writing, this is still a powerful piece of communication technology that has become even better at overcoming limitations.


How does Shadowsocks work?

Shadowsocks is interesting because it’s like many other things, but just different enough to deserve its category. Technically, it’s just a proxy: it redirects your Internet connection through a third server, making it look like you’re in a different location.

In a regular network connection, such as the one you are probably using now, you connect to the ISP’s server and then to the webpage you want to visit. If authorities want to block a site, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is usually told to block access to its IP address. Using a proxy means going from the ISP to the unblocked server and then to the desired location.

how Shadowsocks works

However, ordinary proxy servers are very insecure: there is no good way to secure a connection, because generally speaking, most sites can very easily figure out that you are using it. Shadowsocks, however, is based on a proxy protocol called SOCKS5 that provides a connection using AEAD code, roughly on the same line as the SSH tunnel.

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Although AEAD codes are generally considered not as secure as conventional AES encryption (here’s one academic paper if you want to know more), they are a big step up from regular proxy servers. They generally either use an HTTP-based protocol mostly just a routed unsecured connection or an earlier version of SOCKS that is also not encrypted. Using any of them means leaving yourself open to possible espionage by, well, almost anyone.


Shadowsocks and virtual private networks or VPNs

Reading the above, you may think that Shadowsocks sounds horribly like virtual private networks, which also redirect connections, but also secure them. However, because Shadowsocks encryption is a little easier, it doesn’t offer the same security as a VPN.

However, easier encryption means that Shadowsocks can fly under radar better than a VPN. If they wanted, the ISP could clearly identify VPN traffic, but the Shadowsocks connection is much harder to identify because it looks practically identical to a regular HTTPS connection.

Disadvantages of Shadowsocks

For these reasons, Shadowsocks is a great choice to avoid censorship blocks. However, it is not perfect and has some drawbacks, especially compared to VPNs or even Torah. First of all, Shadowsocks requires a little setup and you need a little understanding of how computers and connections work.

VPNs generally just need to be installed and you’re ready; using Shadowsocks means you have to sit down and read the documentation and set up the server. Depending on how you set it up, there is a chance that Shadowsocks will reduce your internet speed well.

Any diversion technology will reduce your speed, but some are worse than others. A good server will reduce the pain, but generally speaking, using Shadowsocks means a much slower connection. Also, unlike VPNs, you can’t use Shadowsocks to change the Netflix region or even for torrent files.

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However, you can also argue that none of this matters: Shadowsocks was developed as a way to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the despotic regime on free speech and for free. He succeeds remarkably and we recommend everyone who wants to escape from Internet censorship to at least take a look at it.

Today, when we live in a world where there is more and more talk about democracy, tolerance, civil liberties, while at the same time more and more content on the Internet is censored for those “inappropriate”, such tools can be very useful. Shadowsocks is in no way illegal or in violation of any statutory regulations or rules.

What Shadowsocks helps with is access to freedom of information, to which each of us is entitled. It is also one of the biggest pluses of this protocol, which we hope we will not have to use and will be the only choice for those who want to immerse themselves in the Internet, which is not needed for the usual “surfing”.

Writes: Ivan Hečimović

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I am admin of techbuzz.asia blog & I provide tech-related news. As a part of my hobby, I make content related to technology and gadgets reviews too. I love to be a content creator apart from it, I am a full-time employee in an MNC company and manage blogs systematically. You can mail me at [email protected]

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