China Reportedly Hijacked Internet Data For 15 Minutes In April

Even if you aren't typically freaked out by privacy scares, there's a good possibility that this one will shake you. When you think about it, the entire Internet is built on a mythical trust. We simply trust that every piece of information we send is in good hands. We think that "secure" websites mean that our information isn't seen by anyone. But that's clearly not true. Some company is managing that "secure" information, and if they wanted to (and wanted to get into all sorts of trouble), they could simply intercept the information they're claiming to protect. That's definitely a far-out theory, and it's not likely to happen, but you can't say it isn't possible.

And today, that kind of situation seems more possible than ever. In fact, that's exactly the sort of situation that happened in April. Earlier in the year, China's "state-controlled telecommunications company hijacked 15% of the world’s Internet traffic, including data from U.S. military, civilian organizations and those of other U.S. allies." Basically, China's agency decided to tell Internet data that routing it via its servers was the quickest and most efficient route, so "terabytes" of data flowed through when it really shouldn't have.

Even a security expert at McAfree has stated that the "implications of the incident are difficult for those outside the cybersecurity community to grasp," but it really boils down to China eavesdropping on unsecured communications. All sorts of e-mails and IMs were sent, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. No one in China has responded in public to the reports, and it must be noted that these are just allegations at the moment, albeit ones with lots of backing.

To put it bluntly, China decided to route traffic through their country versus taking the shortest path. An example was this: if someone sent a message from Virginia to Washington, D.C., the traffic obviously shouldn't need to travel to China before reaching the destination. But that's the kind of thing that happened for 15 minutes in April. We're definitely eager to hear more on what happened, why it happened and what we can do to prevent it from happening again. We didn't get you too worked up, did we?

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