A new report has revealed that China had intercepted in the Internet traffic of American websites late March in an apparent attempt to take out the services allowing Chinese web users to view these sites, which are otherwise blocked in the Asian country.
The study, which was released on Friday, was conducted by the researchers at the International Computer Science Institute, the Citizen Lab of the University of Toronto, Princeton University and the University of California at Berkeley.
The report said that the censorship monitoring and circumvention project, called GreatFire.org, has been targeted in March by two prominent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), one of which eyed at the code-sharing website GitHub that hosts two of the pages of the group.
According to the report, the major attacks were carried by China with the help of a potent new tool, called “the Great Cannon”.
“The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control. It is the normalization of widespread and public use of an attack tool to enforce censorship,” the researchers wrote in their report.
So far, China used its own Internet filter, called Great Firewall, to cripple the services of foreign websites by redirecting overwhelming amounts of traffic to its actual target. However, the new research found that this time the Asian country opted a more powerful new weapon, which they dubbed the ‘Great Cannon’.
The researchers described the weapon as different from the Great Firewall. But they said both weapons shared same code and network location. This similarity had helped the researchers to derive the conclusion that the Chinese authorities played a big role in the attacks.
China’s new Internet weapon, which is very much similar to one developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ, allows the Asian nation to intercept foreign Internet traffic as it flows to Chinese sites, and redirect the traffic to the site of their choice or inject malicious code in the attacked website.