Media reports on Chinese Internet ‘hijacking’

Another media story on China and the Internet has been widely reported today, although with a somewhat depressing lack of detail and excess of hysteria. I was interviewed today on the BBC about the story (my comments start around 01:34) and so spent a while digging into the particulars. I’ll attempt here to present a slightly more balanced and fact-based version of the story as I understand it. A good technical analysis of this incident can be found at BGPmon here, and probably the best I’ve seen so far is at Renesys here.

A recent report to the US government by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission contains, amongst other reports of potential national security threats to the US from China, mention of an incident in April 2010 in which a significant minority of Internet traffic was briefly and erroneously routed through China. The incident lasted approximately 18 minutes, and affected 15% of Internet destinations.

The headlines report that “China hijack 15% of the Internet”, whilst somewhat breathlessly informing us that US military and government traffic was affected. The original report[1] points out that there is no evidence that this occurred intentionally, but the term “hijack” leaves the interpretation of malicious intent which, of course, makes for a more exciting story.… Read full post