A new report following a cyberattack on a U.S. coding website carries a warning that China may be more dangerous than previously thought in its capacity to tamper with global Web traffic, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The article cites a study by the Toronto-based human rights research group Citizen Lab. The recent attack is widely thought to have come from China, and Citizen Lab’s report “showed the country has developed an offensive cyber tool that it could potentially use for a broad range of purposes, such as to send viruses to targeted individuals or intercept messages,” WSJ reports.
The article notes: “Citizen Lab dubbed China’s alleged new capabilities the ‘Great Cannon,’ in contrast to the country’s long-standing passive Internet censorship filters, which are often called the Great Firewall.”
Among other uses, the Great Cannon lets users redirect a huge amount of traffic to a specific website or other Internet site, crippling it.
The recent attack on the coding site GitHub “marked a shift from China’s passive censoring of websites to more aggressive actions outside of the country,” WSJ reports. “The attackers targeted two pages of San Francisco-based GitHub’s website that housed links to websites banned in China. GitHub said it believed the intent of the attack was to convince it to remove a specific type of content.”
Security experts have said the attack probably came from Chinese authorities, who would have the ability to intercept electronic traffic at a high level of China’s national Internet infrastructure.