Did China Divert US Website Traffic?

Mike Halsey MVP
Nov 17, 2010
Updated • Dec 30, 2012

Reuters are reporting that traffic for some "highly sensitive" US websites was briefly redirected through China.  In a report by the BBC, the incident, which happened for 18 minutes last April saw China Telecom send out incorrect routing formation.

There's no confirmation on whether this was intentional or not, but it comes at a time of increased sensitivity over cyber-terrorism.

Among websites who had traffic diverted were the US Senate, The Office of the Secretary of Defence, NASA and the US Commerce Department.

A draft report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission says "Evidence related to this incident does not clearly indicate whether it was perpetrated intentionally and, if so, to what ends.  However, computer security researchers have noted that the capability could enable severe malicious activities."

The Internet, such as it is, is at some risk of attacks that could threaten national infrastructure and so countries around the world have been working on methods of defending their Internet servers from such threats.  A recent attack was, allegedly, made on Iran and saw plants in the country experiencing significant disruption.  There is no evidence of who was responsible for the attack though it is widely considered that only a major power would have the resources to instigate such a project.

Routing information regulate how Internet users and services communicate on the Internet. This usually means finding the best available route for a connection. ISPs do have the power to reroute traffic, and this seems to have happened in this case. While it is still not clear if it was intentional or not, it highlights one of the dangers of the current Internet system. Why should a foreign company be allowed to direct national traffic in first place?


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  1. Sanjay Amin said on November 19, 2010 at 11:05 am

    When its China its HAS to be intentional, no doubt about that. It is THE most sinister country in the world and The most untrustworthy.

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