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Communication & Technology

China attacking websites across the globe in new censorship offensive


Chinese Internet Users

Chinese Internet Users

China has expanded its internet censorship efforts beyond its borders with a new strategy that attacks websites across the globe, researchers said.The new strategy, dubbed “Great Cannon,” seeked to shut down websites and services aimed at helping the Chinese circumvent the “Great Firewall,” according to a report by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto.

“While the attack infrastructure is co-located with the Great Firewall, the attack was carried out by a separate offensive system, with different capabilities and design, that we term the ‘Great Cannon’,” it said. “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.”

The report supports claims by the activist organisation GreatFire, which last month claimed China was seeking to shut down its websites that offer “mirrored” content from blocked websites like those of the New York Times and others.

The technique involves hijacking internet traffic to the big Chinese search engine Baidu and using that in “denial of service” attacks which flood a website in an effort to knock it offline.

The report authors said the new tool represented “a significant escalation in state-level information control” by using “an attack tool to enforce censorship by weaponising users.”

The Great Cannon manipulated the traffic of “bystander” systems including “any foreign computer that communicates with any China-based website not fully utilising (encryption).”

The Citizen Lab researchers said they found “compelling evidence that the Chinese government operates the GC [Great Cannon]”, despite Beijing’s denials of involvement in cyberattacks.

Because the Great Cannon shared code and infrastructure with the Great Firewall, this “strongly suggests a governmental actor”, said the report, which included collaboration from researchers at the University of California and Princeton University.

The researchers said that deploying the Great Cannon “is a major shift in tactics”, and that it would likely “require the approval of high-level authorities within the Chinese government”.

“The government’s reasoning for deploying the GC here is unclear, but it may wish to confront the threat presented to the Communist Party of China’s ideological control by the ‘collateral freedom’ strategy advanced by GreatFire.org and others,” the report said.

The report also indicated China and the Great Cannon were responsible for the attack on GitHub, a software collaboration website that is also used by Chinese dissidents to circumvent censorship.

The attack tool, said the researchers, gave China capability similar to that of the US National Security Agency’s Quantum program described in documents leaked by former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.

But the report said it is unclear why China was doing this overtly.

“We remain puzzled as to why the [Great Cannon) operator chose to first employ its capabilities in such a publicly visible fashion,” the report said.

“Conducting such a widespread attack clearly demonstrates the weaponisation of the Chinese internet to co-opt arbitrary computers across the web and outside of China to achieve China’s policy ends.”

It said the technique “is a dangerous precedent”.

Source: Daily Mail – ‘Great Cannon’ is widening China censorship, say researchers

 

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About Sky In Company

I am Genevieve Cheung, originally from Hong Kong. After completing secondary studies, I moved to Australia where I completed a degree in Bachelor of Business Management at the VUT in Melbourne. After graduation I moved to Italy where I have been living for more than twenty years. My vast cultural background and extensive linguistic knowledge (speak and write fluent English, Mandarin/Cantonese Chinese and Italian), allow me to join our company- SKY IN COMPANY (HK/ITALY). We provide main services such as web-site translations from Italian/ English to Chinese/English, and SEO services for the Chinese search engine "Baidu". Our offices, based in Hong Kong and Italy, have a young and dynamic team with collaborators around the world. Sono Genevieve Cheung, originaria di Hong Kong; dopo aver completato gli studi secondari, mi sono trasferita in Australia, dove ho conseguito una Laurea in Bachelor of Business Management presso la VUT di Melbourne. Dopo la Laurea mi sono trasferita in Italia, dove vivo ormai da più di venti anni. Il mio background culturale e la vasta conoscenza linguistica (parlo e scrivo correntemente l’inglese, il cinese mandarino e l’italiano), mi consentono di partecipare in quest’attività di traduzione in Italiano/English/Cinese. La principale attività della nostra ditta – SKY IN COMPANY (HK), consiste nella traduzione in lingua cinese di siti web italiani, nonché di servizi di tipo SEO rivolti al motore di ricerca cinese “Baidu”. La nostra ditta principale, con base in Hong Kong, dispone di un team giovane e dinamico con collaboratori in tutto il mondo. WWW.SKYINCOMPANY.COM skyinhk74@yahoo.com.hk HONG KONG OFFICE: Flat b 15/F, Block 7 Yee Mei Court, South Horizon, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong Island Hong Kong Tel: ++852 92235260 ITALY OFFICE: Via Metastasio 27 Firenze 50124 Italy Tel: ++39-347 1429011

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