Last month China began flooding in American websites with a strom of internet traffic in an apparent effort, to take out services that allow China’s internet users to view websites otherwise blocked in the country. Initial security news optional that China had crippled the crushing services by exploiting its own internet clean — known as the Great Firewall — to send on traffic to its targets. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto says China did not use the Great Firewall after all, but rather a powerful new weapon that they are calling the Great Cannon. It allows China to catch foreign web traffic as it flows to Chinese websites, inject malicious code and repurpose the traffic as Beijing sees fit.
The system was used, researchers said, to cut off web and advertising traffic future for Baidu — China’s biggest search engine company — and fire it at GitHub, a trendy site for programers, and GreatFire.org, a nonprofit that runs represent i mages of sites that are blocked inside China. The attacks against the services continued on Thursday, even though both sites appeared to be operating normally.
“The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control,” the researchers said. It is, they said, “the normalization of widespread and public use of an attack tool to enforce censorship.” The researchers, who have previously done extensive research into government surveillance tools, found that while the infrastructure and code for the attacks bear similarities to the Great Firewall, the attacks came from a separate device. The device has the ability not only to snoop on internet traffic but also to alter the traffic and direct it — on a giant scale — to any website, in what is called a “man in the middle attack.”
China’s new Internet weapon, the report says, is similar to one developed and used by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, a system outlined in classified documents leaked by Edward J Snowden, the former United States intelligence contractor.