The US government has accused the state-run China Telecom of temporarily re-routing as much as 15 per cent of internet traffic through its servers.
A government report (PDF) on China's internet activities said that the Chinese telco had re-routed the traffic over an 18-minute period in April.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that China Telecom had provided servers in the US and other countries with "erroneous network traffic routes" that caused the redirection of traffic into servers based in China.
Among the activity believed to have been captured was traffic from the .gov and .mil sub-domains.
"Evidence related to this incident does not clearly indicate whether it was perpetrated intentionally and, if so, to what ends," the Commission said in the report.
"However, computer security researchers have noted that the capability could enable severe malicious activities."
China Telecom said in a statement provide to Reuters that it had no involvement in any sort of hijacking activities.
Few security firms contacted by V3.co.uk were able to provide comment on the report or the allegations, but Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, suggested that it would be extremely difficult to tell whether the attack was intentional or what information was obtained.
Alperovitch said in a blog post that, while accidental hijacks occur a few times each year, the China Telecom incident was unique in that the traffic was absorbed and then sent to its proper destination.
"The incident took advantage of the vulnerabilities in the design of the internet's fundamental building blocks, namely its routing protocols, vulnerabilities that were present in April and remain present today," he wrote. "Not only can this problem happen again, but it probably will."
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