Chinese internet users were unable to access the web for several hours on Tuesday evening after a possible hack forced all traffic to be re-routed to a US company’s website that specialises in anti-censorship tools used by Chinese dissidents.
The state news agency Xinhua confirmed that the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) noted the outage in a post on the Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo.
It said it was due to “a malfunction of root servers for China's top-level domain names” that meant all attempts to get online led to the website for US company Dynamic Internet Technology. It has ties with the Falun Gong movement, a banned religious group in China.
A Chinese foreign ministry official was quoted as saying the incident could be the work of hackers, although nothing had been confirmed as yet.
“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 co-operation. This again shows that China is a victim of hacking,” Reuters reported.
The outage was monitored by Compuware, which estimated that it lasted for eight hours. Michael Allen, vice president of application performance management at Compuware, said it was one of the largest outages ever seen.
“It’s crazy that one DNS issue could have such an impact. Through our global application performance monitoring service we saw that the outage lasted for eight hours, primarily affecting China,” he said.
“When you consider the population affected, this was one of the biggest outages we’ve ever seen, with one seventh of global internet users impacted.”
The incident is the latest in a string of outages and attacks on the Chinese internet infrastructure, and comes in the same week that the nation confirmed plans to end online anonymity.
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