In the last couple of days, China began flooding several websites, especially those that provide content from America, with a barrage of Internet traffic. With this effort, the Chinese authorities tried to take out services that allow users from China to view websites that are already blocked in the country. China declared that they crippled the services by exploiting its own Internet filter, named the Great Firewall, to redirect overwhelming amounts of traffic to its targets. However, rumors are saying that China did not use the Great Firewall to censor the Internet. Researchers from University of Toronto, Berkeley and California say that China actually used another powerful new weapon, named the Great Cannon.
Researchers declared that with this new weapon, named the Great Cannon, China will have the power to intercept foreign web traffic as it flows to Chinese websites. The Great Cannon managed to intercept advertising traffic and web intended for Baidu, one of the biggest search engine companies from China, and fire it at GreatFire.org, a nonprofit that runs sites that are blocked in China and GitHub, known as a popular site for programmers. Researchers also said that the attack continued throughout the entire month, even if both sites appeared to run normally.
Moreover, it seems that this new system has even more powerful capabilities. The Great Canon could be used by China to spy on anyone who fetch content hosted on a Chinese computer, visiting a non-Chinese website. “The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control,” researchers declared in their report. They say that “the normalization of widespread and public use of an attack tool to enforce censorship.”
The Great Cannon is considered to be similar to a tool developed by the National Security Agency. These similarities will put America into an awkward situation, the researchers declared. “This precedent will make it difficult for Western governments to credibly complain about others utilizing similar techniques.” This new system will demonstrate how far China is willing to go to censor Internet content. “This is just one part of President Xi Jinping’s push to gain tighter control over the Internet and remove any challenges to the party,” has declared James A. Lewis, a security expert at the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington.