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Big Web Crash in China: Experts Suspect Great Firewall

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Artist's representation of how the 'Great Firewall of China' works.

A massive Internet failure in China could have resulted from Chinese censors mistakenly redirecting Web traffic to sites that typically are blocked in that country.


A massive Internet failure in China on Tuesday prevented most of the country's 500 million Internet users from accessing websites for up to eight hours, in an incident that technology experts believe stemmed from Web censors known as the Great Firewall of China.

Experts speculate the Chinese government mistakenly redirected traffic to sites that are typically blocked in China. The state-run China Internet Network Information Center said the incident was tied to the country's domain name system (DNS).

About 75 percent of China's DNS servers were impacted, according to Qihoo 360 Technology. The servers routed traffic from some of China's most popular sites to an Internet address reportedly registered to a company called Sophidea. Although Sophidea's physical server location is unclear, the firm appears to operate a service that reroutes Internet traffic from one website to another to conceal a person's whereabouts. Such a service could be used to circumvent firewalls, which prompted experts to believe the Chinese government might have caused the outage by trying to block traffic to Sophidea's website.

Further supporting this theory was the concurrent redirecting of Chinese Internet traffic to Internet addresses owned by Dynamic Internet Technology, which helps users get around China's Great Firewall and ordinarily is blocked.

From The New York Times
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