Internet traffic 'hijacked' to China servers, says US report

Nov 17, 2010 by Alex Ogle

Highly sensitive Internet traffic on US government and military websites was briefly "hijacked" and routed through Chinese servers earlier this year, a report to the US Congress said Wednesday.

For 18 minutes on April 8, a Chinese state-owned telecommunications firm rerouted email traffic to and from websites of the US Senate, the Department of Defense, along with "many others" including NASA and Department of Commerce, said the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission's annual report.

Some 15 percent of the Internet's entire traffic was routed through the Chinese servers during this brief period, said the report.

"We don't know what was done (with the data) when they got it," commissioner Larry Wortzel told reporters Wednesday, noting it was not established whether the traffic hijacking by China Telecom was intentional and sanctioned by Beijing.

"When I see things like this happen, I ask, who might be interested with all the communications traffic from the entire Department of Defense and federal government," Wortzel said, adding: "It's probably not a graduate student at Shanghai University."

The efforts of Chinese individuals and organizations to penetrate US networks "appear to be more sophisticated than techniques used in the past," cautioned commission vice chair Carolyn Bartholomew.

"The massive scale and the extensive intelligence and reconnaissance components of recent high profile, China-based computer exploitations suggest that there continues to be some level of state support for these activities," Bartholomew said.

Leading Web security firm McAfee has warned of a rise in cyberattacks with political objectives, pointing to China as one of the major actors launching assaults on foreign networks.

US targets include the White House, Department of Homeland Security, US Secret Service and Department of Defense, McAfee said in its report last year.

"What could you do if you had the stream of email traffic for 18 minutes" to and from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked Wortzel on Wednesday, saying that "most importantly you would get the Internet addresses of everybody that communicated," and be able to engineer an address to plant a virus.

Former US intelligence chief Michael McConnell told lawmakers earlier this year that the United States would lose a cyberwar if it fought one today, warning: "We're the most vulnerable, we're the most connected, we have the most to lose."

McConnell, who served as ex-president George W. Bush's director of national intelligence, warned a Senate panel in February that because the United States was not failing to effectively mitigate the risk, "we are going to have a catastrophic event."

China's capacity to launch cyberattacks on US commerical interests was also highlighted this year after Internet giant Google threatened to completely shutter its operations in the Asian country, saying it became the target of a series of sophisticated cyberattacks there.

The commission on Wednesday recommended Congress call on the administration of President Barack Obama to formally investigate the "volume and seriousness of exploitations and attacks" targeting federal agencies that handle sensitive military and diplomatic information.

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plasticpower
not rated yet Nov 17, 2010
because the United States was not failing to effectively mitigate the risk, "we are going to have a catastrophic event."

/\ uhh, what?
james11
1 / 5 (3) Nov 17, 2010
"US targets include the White House, Department of Homeland Security, US Secret Service and Department of Defense, McAfee said in its report last year."

Does this scare anyone else or am I completely misunderstanding this? The US is far from perfect but the US also has better intentions than any other powerful country. Its funny how people hate America and its citizens because of corruption and lifestyle. Got news for you idiots...corruption is everywhere. How can you hate a person that wants peace regardless of mistakes or differences? The majority of people want peace and it is sad that peace is too much to ask for.
Javinator
5 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2010
People hate America because of
Got news for you idiots...
attitudes like that.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (3) Nov 17, 2010
well since we are going down the list of reasons -- the main ones IMHO are:

we tend to get involved in political affairs of nations without being asked, or if we are asked we only get involved if it suits our needs. & if we were not asked we disavow any information to the contrary.

Examples:Iran - we really F'ed over this country from 1940-1970 look it up

Rwanda:Peace Keepers asked us to intercede many times in this genocide & Clinton took a blind eye

We used Europe to fight Russia from 1935 - 1980

We used Pakistna to fight Russia from 1978 - 1990's

We put Saddam Hussien in power in Iraq back in 1979 & then stopped liking him by 1992

We walked into Nicaragua - took down the government & walked away the next day.

We should have just annexed Columbia while we were fighting there drug wars for them

Isreal - nuf said

come on these are the easy ones I am sure you all can think up better ones

all while smiling & saying - U should thank the USA
epsi00
4 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2010
"How can you hate a person that wants peace"

a country that is waging 3 full scale wars abroad and few small scale ones ( yemen, somalia,...) ( not to defend its territory ) certainly does not want peace.
axemaster
4.7 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2010
"The US is far from perfect but the US also has better intentions than any other powerful country."

You live in the USA right? Surrounded by your media environment 24/7, how could you think differently?

The media in the USA are EXTREMELY pro-USA in their bias. I am saying this as a non-paranoid American who has managed to figure out what a mess it all is.
kirk_franks
5 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2010
So why not have a private highly secured internet for all of that traffic? While it's not a cheap solution, it's a better way to keep the hackers away from our crown jewels. We spend trillions upon trillions of dollars to beef up security yet we seem to have no common sense. We'd rather be stuck in perpetual political debates and willing to settle for mediocre solutions, rather then bite the bullet and think outside the box.