News / Asia

More Questions than Answers About China Internet Outage

FILE - A man uses a computer at an internet cafe in Hefei, in China's Anhui province on March 16, 2012.
FILE - A man uses a computer at an internet cafe in Hefei, in China's Anhui province on March 16, 2012.
Chinese Internet users are now able to access numerous websites including Baidu and Sina Weibo after the country once again experienced massive outages Tuesday.

According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which “operates and administers country code top level domain of .cn and Chinese domain name system,” the cause was due to malfunctions with the servers that manage the .cn name system.

China’s state-run news service, Xinhua, hinted that the problem could have been caused by hackers because Chinese web surfers were rerouted to an IP address associated with Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT), a company that provides, among other things, software to help Chinese web surfers get around the so-called Great Firewall.

The company was founded by Bill Xia, a practioner of Falun Gong, a banned group in China. Xia emigrated to the United States and started DIT. The Voice of America is a client of DIT.

The latest outage was the second major disruption in five months. Last August, a denial-of-service attack caused large portions of the Chinese Internet to go dark in what in what Beijing called the “largest ever” hack attack on Chinese sites.

"China Internet Network Information Center no doubt learned some valuable lessons as a result of the August 2013 outage, where they found that it was internal Chinese hacking competition which disrupted the .cn domain,” said Christopher Burgess, CEO of Prevendra, Inc., an Internet security firm.

“In this instance, speculation of a 'foreign hand' will be high, as the outage was caused by Domain Name Service changes which rerouted traffic to a company, Dynamic Internet Technology, well known for their anti-censorship web services tailored to evade the 'The Great Firewall of China’," he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said during his regular news briefing that he “noted” reports of Falun Gong involvement in the hacking, but said he did not know who was responsible.

"I don't know who did this or where it came from, but what I want to point out is this reminds us once again that maintaining Internet security needs strengthened international cooperation. This again shows that China is a victim of hacking."

However some think the problem stems from the Great Firewall itself.

"This is the result of China's DNS hijacking system," said Xia in an email. "This system is part of China's Great Firewall."

He said the system is used to block domains the Chinese government disapproves of.

"This time, the DNS hijacking system targeted all domains instead, for a few hours, thus the break down," he said.

Greatfire.org, a website that monitors web censorship in China, also said theories that DIT was behind the outage had little merit.

Instead, the website said the outage was likely caused by what they call “DNS poisoning,” which is used to block users from certain addresses. In essence it scrambles the numbers during the process of converting a website name into IP numbers, sending people to the wrong website.

“One hypothesis is that [the Great Firewall] might have intended to block the [DIT] IP but accidentally used that IP to poison all domains,” the group wrote in a blog post.

The group said they sent a website address to a public DNS server run by Google. The group said that outside China, the address was converted properly, but that inside China, they were sent to a DIT IP address.

“The bogus response,” the group wrote, “could only have been returned by [the Great Firewall].”

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Firozali Mullar from: Tanzania
January 26, 2014 6:24 AM
Snowden’s latest statements come just days after President Barack Obama responded to public outcry by announcing changes to how the US government conducts electronic surveillance.

Although Obama did not talk in length about Snowden in a speech that remained largely unapologetic for the activities of the NSA and others, he did say that “If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy.”

Anger against Snowden is reportedly less restrained amongst members of US intelligence agencies, with BuzzFeed reporting one anonymous Pentagon official as saying “I would love to put a bullet in his head."

"I do not take pleasure in taking another human beings life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single-handedly the greatest traitor in American history," said the unnamed individual.

Snowden remains adamant that his actions have helped America, saying that “due to extraordinary planning involved, in nine months, no one has credibly shown any harm to national security [arising from the leaks].”

He also acknowledged that although his life may be in danger he is happy to have brought the topic of mass surveillance to the attention of the American public. “It may sound trite,” he told the New Yorker, “[but if] I end up disgraced in a ditch somewhere, but it helps the country, it will still be worth it.”

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs