Jaikumar Vijayan, Computerworld (November 18, 2010)
"A report submitted to Congress on Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission expressed concerns over what the commission claims is China's growing ability to control and manipulate Internet traffic.
"The report points to two specific incidents earlier this year where actions taken inside China had a direct impact on Internet traffic in the U.S. and other regions of the world.
"In one of the incidents, traffic to and from about 15% of all Internet destinations was routed through servers belonging to China Telecom, a state-owned telecommunications company.
"In an e-mailed statement Wednesday, China Telecom rejected the claims, but offered no further comment.
"The rerouting happened on April 8 and lasted for about 18 minutes. The traffic hijacking affected U.S. government and military networks, including those belonging to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, as well as the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Commerce, NASA and the U.S. Senate.
"Commercial sites, including those belonging to Microsoft, Dell and Yahoo, were also affected.
"It's unclear if Chinese telecommunications companies did anything with the hijacked data, the commission said in its report. But the kind of access that Chinese authorities had to the data could enable surveillance of specific users or sites, disrupt transactions, prevent a user from establishing connections to specific sites or divert them to other spoofed sites, the report noted.
" 'Incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications,' the report said...."
Which in the Lemming's opinion, is a very low-key, understated way of putting it.
It's "incidents," by the way. Here's what Computerworld has to say about number two:
"...The second incident involved a more widely reported botched attempt by Chinese authorities to block users inside China from accessing sites such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
"Because of a network error, users in the U.S. and Chile also found themselves unable to access those sites, and were directed to incorrect servers -- just as they would have if they had been inside China.
"Today's report makes it clear that there is little evidence to show that either incident was planned or executed deliberately. Even so, the incidents show that China and other countries have the capability to do so, if they want to.
" 'Although China is by no means alone in this regard, persistent reports of that nation's use of malicious computer activities raise questions about whether China might seek intentionally to leverage these abilities to assert some level of control over the Internet, even for a brief period,' the report noted...."
So Internet Traffic Went Through Another Server: So What?When this story broke, yesterday, the Lemming thought it might be like last week's San Diego contrail: interesting, even intriguing; but not all that significant. (November 10, 2010)
Turns out, there's a lot that could be done with all that rerouted Internet traffic. It's like Computerworld wrote: "...the kind of access that Chinese authorities had to the data could enable surveillance of specific users or sites, disrupt transactions, prevent a user from establishing connections to specific sites or divert them to other spoofed sites, the report noted....
Then there was the other incident (again, from Computerworld): the "...botched attempt by Chinese authorities to block users inside China from accessing sites such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
"Because of a network error, users in the U.S. and Chile also found themselves unable to access those sites, and were directed to incorrect servers -- just as they would have if they had been inside China....
Apathy, Lemming StyleThe Lemming's discussed the name of this blog before. I'm "apathetic" only in the sense that I do not share the occasionally-hysterical (in my opinion) assumptions and phobias of America's dominant culture.
There are things that the Lemming cares about. Like being allowed to share and distribute information. Or to have information kept private: like access codes for my bank account, or how to shut down a country's coastal defenses.
Would it be nice if nobody had to have any secrets at all? Sure. It'd be nice if everybody looked like movie stars and had a mansion on the Côte d'Azur. Maybe. We don't live in a perfect world, though: and recent efforts to 'fix' things haven't met, in my opinion, with unqualified success.
Like the various workers' paradises.
No, this blog isn't "political," but China's leadership style is about as hard to ignore as an elephant in the parlor.
Internet Traffic, China, and CoincidencesChina's a big country, both in area and population. It shouldn't be any surprise that some Internet glitches involve Chinese servers.
But it's not always a good idea to assume that something 'just happened.'
Say, for example, that you live in a neighborhood where stuff disappears: a television set here; a computer there; a set of bedroom furniture somewhere else. After a few years, someone points out that these items generally show up in the house of this guy down the block who doesn't have a job, but has a house full of nice stuff. Including a television set, computer, and set of bedroom furniture identical to the missing items.
Could be. Not very likely, though.
The Lemming has a great deal of respect for Chinese history and culture. The lot that's running the place now? Not so much. Although they seem to be learning that it's okay for their subjects to have wealth. (November 14, 2010) And that's another topic. Almost.
The sad fact is that China's leadership has - or wants to have - the sort of stranglehold on what people are allowed to see, hear, read, and - by extension - think; that has been the dream of crackpot religious leaders, red-white-and-blue 'real' Americans, and at least some college professors. Remember political correctness?
And no, this isn't a "political" blog. But, like the Lemming said: elephant in the parlor. Ignore the obvious, and a person's likely to get stepped on. Hard.
What does the Lemming think about the recent reroutings of Internet traffic through China? It could be a coincidence. But the situation looks a lot more like that hypothetical fellow with the house full of other people's stuff.
I think China's leaders are fiddling with the Internet - and don't want folks to notice.
Freedom: It MattersSomeone who has absolute trust in some government might be quite content to see what Dear Leader wants us to see, hear what we're supposed to hear, and read nothing but the 'proper' material.
The Lemming isn't one of those people. I think that freedom of expression - and the freedom to either attend to or ignore ideas expressed by others - is valuable. Also a safeguard against crackpot ideas from some agency. (Example: TSA "pat downs" might be the only alternative - but the Lemming thinks the idea should be discussed - openly - and elsewhere.)
China's leadership has a track record for not being comfortable with its subjects being exposed to unapproved ideas. The Lemming has been told that they've got good reason for wanting that sort of tight control. Given their recent history, I can sort of see why they don't want their subjects to find out too much about what's going on - and that's yet another topic.
Bottom line? I think that anybody who values freedom of expression and isn't comfortable with censorship should be very, very interested in all the 'coincidences' involving China and the Internet.
- "Google, China, Censorship, Compromise: 'Totally Wrong;' or, Not"
(March 23, 2010)
- "Life, Liberty, and Internet Access?!"
(March 9, 2010)
- "China. Hackers. Cyberattack. Again."
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 22, 2010)
- "Cyber Attacks Came From China - Again"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 19, 2010)
- "Google Gmail Accounts Vulnerable, China Hack Went Public"
(January 18, 2010)
- "Pentagon Computers Hacked - Joint Strike Fighter Project Data This Time"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (April 21, 2009)
- "Cyberspy Network Hacked 103 Countries' Systems"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 29, 2009)
- "World Bank Group Network Hacked; Chinese IPs Used: Just What We Need"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 10, 2008)
- "China Protects Online Gamers: Another Dubious Idea"
(January 18, 2009)
- "YouTube Banned by China: Online Censorship?"
(March 17, 2008)