[Dshield] Cut Off China

Commerco WebMaster Webmaster at Commerco.Net
Thu Jun 30 11:26:38 GMT 2005

E D,

Your message reminds me of an experience I had back in the 1980s with 
a group of students from China who came to the bay area for a series 
of class lectures I gave.  I was asked to do instructor duty for a 
large measurement and computation company in the US I worked for at 
the time, presenting a series of business computing System Management 
/ System Administration courses to those students.

8:30 AM Greeted guests - I got the impression they might not 
understand English - I started to panic and got a Chinese speaking 
engineer from my company to gently confirm they could understand 
me.  They did.  Whoops, I thought, perhaps I had made a bad first 
impression and I started to fear they might not like me.  Bad news, 
if a student does not like their teacher, they probably won't learn 
much from the teacher.

9:00 AM Started class.  Got through first module, no 
questions.  Started second module... still no questions.

10:15 AM Early break for sugar pills and coffee.  I asked my Chinese 
engineer what she thought might be wrong, because in all other 
classes I had ever given I had always received questions from the 
students.  I really enjoy an interactive class environment because it 
keeps everyone engaged and conscious. It is far easier to pump 
information into conscious folks.  In any case, she explained that it 
was culturally very important to never shame an 
instructor.  Apparently, if they were to ask questions of me, they 
felt it would indicate they were pointing out a failing on the 
instructor's part in getting the information across, which would 
shame the instructor and would thus be considered very bad form for 
the student to do, shaming them as well.  If this is true, I thought, 
it must be very hard to be an effective teacher and frustrating to be 
a student in China.

10:30 AM Class resumes.  I explained to students that I would be far 
more shamed if they returned to China after a week of very boring one 
sided lectures without my having done the job of teaching them 
properly.  I tried to convince them that questions are a great way to 
trigger exploring areas of the materials in greater depth.  Thus, I 
explained that questions were welcome and never considered insulting 
or shameful for me.  That seemed to loosen them up and they began 
smiling and seemed relieved to learn they could ask what they wanted 
without fear of committing any social errors.  Lots of questions 
started to roll in and things became a whole lot more productive and 
learning actually took place.  I know I was a whole lot happier and 
based on feedback, they seemed very happy with the experience as well.

Keep in mind that the folks I was responsible for teaching 
represented the best of the best from their country, so I could 
certainly understand how they were concerned for not bringing shame 
on themselves, the rest of the group or me.  These were good and 
honorable group of people whom I had the privilege to teach and learn from.

I don't know if the seemingly general lack of communication by ISPs 
in China is a cultural thing, but closing communications to an entire 
country or section of the world for business seems an over the top 
extreme response.

My simple minded thinking as regards the subject of this message:
Block China (or any nation)?  Probably a very bad idea if you want to 
engage in international business and possibly not so good if you want 
to get to a site that might have made your hardware to get driver 
updates or find lost documentation or some other resource in the 
nation you might have blocked.

Block troublesome CIDR blocks?  Sure, it might make some sense but 
remember to unblock them if they clean up their act and hope the 
powers that be stop allocating more free IP space to those who 
don't.  After all, to reward bad behavior is in itself a most shameful thing.

Restrict port access?  These days, I think you would be almost 
suicidal if you did not.

Bad folks (or especially their handiwork) can come from any 
IP.  Blocking a nation or geographic region is never going to secure 
any network, though it might create a false sense of security for 
some (e.g., "once I block nation x I am safe because we all _know_ 
that bad people live in nation x" - an attitude that seems both 
socially bigoted and naive where it comes to networking - think 
botnet).  Even so, blocking IPs won't ever replace good network and 
system administration as well as promoting best practices and 
continuing internal education within your own network's user community.


Alan Maitland
WebMaster at Commerco.Net
The Commerce Company - Making Commerce Simple(sm)

At 11:41 AM 6/29/2005, you wrote:
>I have heard that many ISP's in Asia don't respond to complaints, 
>because it is a loss of face to them if they do - they bring 
>dishonor on their employer for admitting something is wrong.  And, 
>loss of face is a serious matter in parts of Asia.
>However, the lack a response does not mean (necessarily) that they 
>are ignoring you.  It is quite possible they are "dealing with" the 
>spammer ('do you wnat the bullet in your left ear or your right?') 
>while just never telling you.
>-E D Truitt
>Sent via my BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

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