The claimed hijacking of 15 per cent of internet traffic by China Telecom has been hugely exaggerated, according to security firms McAfee and Arbor Networks.
Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, said in a blog post that it is very difficult to estimate how much traffic was actually redirected.
"Based on our analysis, there were 53,353 network routing prefixes that had been announced false on 8 April out of a total of roughly 330,000 network routes that existed in routing tables at that time," he said.
"That amounts to 15 per cent of the networks on the internet, not necessarily 15 per cent of the traffic."
Alperovitch added that there is "absolutely no proof" that this was an intentional attack, and that routing hijacks happen fairly frequently and mostly by accident.
"We believe they do demonstrate a frightening lack of security in the fundamental building blocks of the internet, and that the security and routing communities need to take steps to address those vulnerabilities soon."
Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, said in a blog post that the diverted traffic "never topped a handful of gigabytes", and that the increase was much closer to 0.015 per cent than 15 per cent.
A report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (ESCR) had claimed that China hijacked "massive volumes of internet traffic", but did not provide an exact percentage, Labovitz added.
"Diverting 15 per cent of the internet even for just 15 minutes would be a major event," he wrote.
"But as earlier analysis by internet researchers suggested, this hijack had limited impact on the internet routing infrastructure. Most of the internet ignored the hijack for various technical reasons."
The ESCR report suggested that the incident could have enabled malicious activities. China Telecom denied any involvement in a statement provided to Reuters.
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