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Saturday, October 23, 2010

China hijacked U.S. Internet data

A Chinese state run telecom provider was the source of the redirection of U.S. military and corporate data that occurred this past April, according to excerpts of a draft report sent to CNET by the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission. In several cases, Chinese telecommunications firms have disrupted or impacted U.S. Internet traffic, according to the excerpts.

On March 24, Web traffic from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other popular sites was temporarily affected by China's own internal censorship system, sometimes known as the Great Firewall. Users in Chile and the United States trying to reach those sites were diverted to incorrect servers or encountered error messages indicating that the sites did not exist. The USCC report said it was as if users outside China were trying to access restricted sites from behind China's Great Firewall.

Then on April 8, a large number of routing paths to various Internet Protocol addresses were redirected through networks in China for 17 minutes. The USCC identified China's state-owned telecommunications firm China Telecom as the source of the "hijacking." This diversion of data would have given the operators of the servers on those networks the ability to read, delete, or edit e-mail and other information sent along those paths.

Evidence didn't clearly indicate whether this diversion of data was done intentionally or for what purpose, according to the USCC. But the capability alone raises a red flag. Though the USCC could not definitively link this incident to the Chinese government, the authors of the report do believe there's an "obvious correlation to be drawn between the victims, the nature of the documents stolen, and the strategic interests of the Chinese state."

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