The beauty of the internet is that people have access to so much information from around the world. Data from millions of websites is readily available within a few seconds. Not only is the data accessible from computers, but smartphones and tablets too.
But being able to access all this data on the smallest of devices also means that a user’s data is being transmitted through various countries. Many countries and individuals are concerned about where their data is going or passing through.
New tools make it possible to decide how that data is transmitted.
It all started from a study by researchers at Princeton. They wanted to see where data passed through when it originated in different parts of the world. Their research revealed some very interesting facts.
For instance, the research showed that a lot of the internet routing paths that go from countries such as Brazil, Kenya and India are going through the United States and Europe.
To properly understand the issue, they came up with a tool that is known as Region-Aware Networking. It is shortened as RAN. With RAN, a user or organization should be able to reroute their network traffic so that it is not passing through specific countries or regions.
Popular Sites Have Common Hosting Countries
The issue is that many of the most popular websites on the world wide web are hosted on servers in the United States or European countries. Even when these sites are accessible around the world, it is done through contracts with the content distribution network.
It is why the RAN was not as successful at rerouting in certain situations. While it worked most of the time, it was not able to reroute much of the traffic when accessing popular websites from the US or Europe.
Research Using VPNs
The researchers wanted to find out more information about this traffic dependency in various parts of the world. They used virtual private networks, or VPNs, to access websites as if they were in different countries. For instance, they would use a VPN from Brazil, India, Kenya or some other country to access the same 100 popular sites.
The data they found showed how much certain countries are dependent on services in the United States and Europe. For instance, around 84 percent of the traffic from Brazil for popular websites was passing through the United States.
Countries such as India and Kenya had a lot of traffic going through Britain. Traffic from Kenya was also going through South Africa and Mauritius very often.
RAN Does Help
While the RAN tool developed by the team is not perfect, it did help avoid certain routes. For instance, without the tool around 50 percent of the routes from Kenya were going through Britain. The tool ensured that 97 percent of the routes were not going through Britain to access the popular websites.
RAN is the type of tool that would be useful for individuals or organizations who do not want their data bound by the laws of the country where it passes through – such as the United States.