China has expanded its internet censorship efforts with a new strategy that surreptitiously intercepts web traffic and redirects it at websites across the globe.
Dubbed “Great Cannon,” the new strategy targets websites and services aimed at helping Chinese netizens circumvent the “Great Firewall,” according to a report by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto.
The report states that “the Great Cannon is not simply an extension of the Great Firewall, but a distinct attack tool that hijacks traffic to (or presumably from) individual IP addresses, and can arbitrarily replace unencrypted content as a man-in-the-middle.”
The findings support claims from the activist organisation GreatFire, which last month said China was seeking to shut down its websites that offer “mirrored” content from blocked websites like those of the New York Times and others.
In a detailed write up by The Economist on several similar attacks of this nature, the newspaper claims that foreign traffic entering China meant for Baidu was intercepted and redirected at American websites.
The redirected traffic overwhelmed the bandwidth and resources of the targeted websites, effectively taking them offline and running up heavy costs for the owners.
While on the topic of censorship, you might be surprised to hear that China ranked a mere 176 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, and that in 2013 the Chinese media environment was declared as being “one of the world’s most restrictive.”
By Dominic Jackson