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Did China Cause Its Own Massive Internet Outage?

The outage reportedly blocked two-thirds of China's web users for about an hour Tuesday. But were hackers the cause or was it China's own firewall?
Posted at 8:33 PM, Jan 22, 2014

There's Internet intrigue in China, where a disruption in service has the country, and one company that's somehow involved, pointing fingers.  

As The Next Web reports, the massive outage affected two-thirds, or about 200 million, of China's Web users for about an hour Tuesday — leaving them unable to access websites that ended in .com, .net or .org.

Instead, they were redirected to the website of an American company called Dynamic Internet Technology, or DIT — which just so happens to offer services that help Web users circumvent China's so-called "Great Firewall."

On top of that, DIT's president is a practitioner of Falun Gong — a spiritual movement that's been banned in China since 1999. (Via Wikimedia Commons / clearwisdom.net)

So, smoking gun, right? The anti-Chinese firewall company and its Falun Gong-practicing president surely hacked the country's firewall to undermine Internet censorship in the country, don't you think?

Well, that seems to be how the Chinese government is leaning. Although China's Foreign Ministry spokesman didn't name names, Voice of America quotes him as saying: "I don't know who did this or where it came from, but what I want to point out is this reminds us once again that maintaining Internet security needs strengthened international cooperation. This again shows that China is a victim of hacking."

But DIT's president has been quick to say that he, his company and likely hackers in general had nothing to do with the outage — instead blaming the country's own censorship technology.

According to The New York Times, he blamed a "misconfiguration" in the country’s firewall, adding that only the firewall itself would have the ability to block the websites.

And others have been quick to back him up. After testing the outage themselves, an independent site called Greatfire.org, which monitors Internet censorship in China, wrote: "We have conclusive evidence that this outage was caused by the Great Firewall. … The bogus response … could only have been returned by [the Great Firewall]."

And a Wall Street Journal reporter says China's explanation doesn't exactly add up.

"If you were going to take down the entire Chinese Internet in a hack attack  ... you'd think you'd do something better with it. Use it to make a political statement or something." (Via The Wall Street Journal)

Internet access has now been restored across China. The cause of the outage is still being investigated.