I can almost hear Borat crying in his drink from here. The character that was brought to life by the English actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is not a representation of Kazakstan but, the level of nonsense seems fitting based on what is now approaching for the citizens of that country.
According to a law that was passed, the government is going to require that citizens install a certificate on their personal computers and mobile devices. The rationale here is a ham-fisted attempt to roll out government surveillance to the country. This came to light when the company Telecom.kz posted this to their website on November 30, 2015. However, by December 4th the press release was removed from the website.
Someone forgot to tell them that the Internet doesn’t forget. This posting was still available in Google cache as of this writing.
By words of Nurlan Meirmanov, Managing director on innovations of Kazakhtelecom JSC, Internet users shall install national security certificate, which will be available through Kazakhtelecom JSC internet resources. «User shall enter the site www.telecom.kz and install this certificate following step by step installation instructions”- underlined N.Meirmanov.
Kazakhtelecom JSC pays special attention that installation of security certificate can be performed from each device of a subscriber, from which Internet access will be performed (mobile telephones and tabs on base of iOS/Android, PC and notebooks on base of Windows/MacOS).
This will allow the government to snoop and capture web traffic, passwords, financial details…OK, basically anything. This is an example of abject stupidity at it’s finest. I’m reminded of the nonsensical attempt by the UK government to roll out “porn filters” as a ruse to control Internet access.
This attempt by the Kazakh government is by no means unique. Governments have been doing this sort of thing for years. More recently we’ve seen the Turkish government attempt to block access to social media sites. As well, Thailand is also attempting to roll out their own MitM implementation.
These aforementioned are bizarre attempts by governments to try and control the message as well as their own populace. This always strikes me as a government that is afraid, not of adversaries but, of their own populace. Further to that end it occurs to me that so many governments are attempting to control Internet access long after the fact. This is a system that has long been available around the world and only now are they trying to do something to control it. A failure in planning.
The need to find ways to skirt these implementations is real. There have been projects like this for years such as Hacktivismo’s Peekabooty all the way up to the Tor Project. Hopefully Tor or a new solution will be able to route around these controls so that people are not subjected to these measures.