One house on a sleepy street in the Midwest absorbed three-quarters of all Chinese Internet traffic Tuesday.
Chinese domain name servers rerouted the web activity of nearly 500 million users to a single block of internet addresses, registered to a small, 1,700-square-foot house in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Half a billion internet surfers were blocked from websites ending in .com, .net or .org for nearly eight hours in most regions of China, according to Compuware, a Detroit-based technology company.
The New York Times Blog, Bits, reports:
The China Internet Network Information Center, a state-run agency that deals with Internet affairs, said it had traced the problem to the country’s domain name system. And one of China’s biggest antivirus software vendors, Qihoo 360 Technology, said the problems affected roughly three-quarters of the country’s domain name system servers.
Those servers, which act as a switchboard for Internet traffic behind China’s Great Firewall, routed traffic from some of China’s most popular sites, including Baidu and Sina, to a block of Internet addresses registered to Sophidea Incorporated, a mysterious company housed on a residential street in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Sophidea appears to be a service that redirects traffic from one address to another to mask a person’s whereabouts – or to evade a firewall, Bits reports.
Some tech experts suggested Tuesday that the disruption may have been caused by Chinese Internet censors who attempted to block traffic to Sophidea’s websites but mistakenly redirected traffic to the service instead.
In a strange twist to the story, this same house was the subject of a 2011 Reuters investigation, because nearly 2,000 companies are registered on paper to that address. 2,000 companies on paper. Some entities registered to the address were a shell company controlled by a jailed former Ukraine prime minister; the owner of a company charged with helping online poker operators evade an Internet gambling ban; and one entity that was banned from government contracts after selling counterfeit truck parts to the Pentagon.
(H/T: New York Times Bits Blog)
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.
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