In the latest US-China internet flap, a US congressional body has accused China Telecom of hijacking critical web traffic for a brief period.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that as a result of incorrect routing data sent by the Chinese telco, traffic to and from major corporate and government sites had been redirected through China for 18 minutes in April.
The incident affected around 15% of world traffic, including the Pentagon and the State Department, the report said. It said it could not say whether the routing instructions had been changed deliberately, National Defense Magazine reported.
“Although the commission has no way to determine what, if anything, Chinese telecommunications firms did to the hijacked data, the incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications,” the report said.
In a statement emailed to Reuters, China Telecom denied the hijacking claim, but did not provide any further details of the event.
While there was no evidence to suggest it was deliberate, security experts floated a number of theories.
Danny McPherson, chief security officer at Arbor Networks, said the massive traffic diversion could have “been intended to conceal one targeted attack,” the report said.