recommended reading

Chinese Censors May Have Accidentally Hacked Themselves and Caused a Major Internet Outage

Tang Yan Song/Shutterstock.com

The cause of China’s massive internet outage this week, which affected an estimated 200 million users for as long as 24 hours, is something of a mystery. Chinese users trying to reach a range of websites ending in .com were re-routed instead to an IP address owned by Dynamic Internet Technology, an anti-censorship group in the US run by a member of the Falun Gong, a religious organization banned in China.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the evidence “shows that China is a victim of hacking,” and was a reminder that international internet security needs to be strengthened. China’s internet officials said the problem was misconfigured domain name servers outside of China, which translate domain names like “Baidu.com” into numeric IP addresses.

But Reuters cited unnamed sources familiar with China’s web management operations who said the malfunction that it may have been an “engineering mistake” that Chinese government employees made while making changes to the country’s “Great Firewall” internet censorship system.

The anti-censorship group Greatfire—which runs a website called FreeWeibo that reveals messages blocked on the popular Sina Weibo platform—has another theory. The Chinese government, they say, may have been trying to thwart Greatfire’s anti-censorship measures, and screwed up. The DNS misdirection was definitely coming from inside of China, not outside it, Greatfire said, because of tests they did of non-China websites from China. (Read their entire explanation here.)

No one can explain, though, why a huge chunk of China’s internet traffic might have been sent to that particular IP address, except, perhaps, for human error. The address (http://65.49.2.178) “is a mirror site for dongtaiwang.com, a news portal operated by Falun Gong groups,” Greatfire notes, operated by “mortal enemy number one” of the Chinese government.

Bill Xia, who created Dynamic Internet Technology in 2001, told the Wall Street Journal (paywall) his company had “nothing to do with the massive shift in traffic.” At the time, the site had no sensitive content on it, Greatfire notes, which would have been unusual if someone was intentionally trying to hack China’s censors.

(Image via Tang Yan Song/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Stolen laptop

Wireless Heart Monitor Maker to Pay $2.5M Settlement to HHS After Laptop Stolen

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.