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It’s been said the next major war may not take place on a physical battlefield, but on the Internet. We’ve already seen instances of cyber warfare. How would you feel if you knew that for 18 minutes a country hijacked 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic? Not too safe, probably.
That’s what happened in April of 2010. The country involved in the hacking: China, which should probably not surprise anyone. Here’s what the NDIA (National Defense Industrial Association) says:
For 18 minutes in April, China’s state-controlled telecommunications company hijacked 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, including data from U.S. military, civilian organizations and those of other U.S. allies. […]
Nobody outside of China can say, at least publicly, what happened to the terabytes of data after the traffic entered China.
What China did, essentially, was re-route traffic that would ordinarily be routed through the “best way possible” on the Internet through its own servers. What’s interesting is that all that traffic did not results in any slowdown to Web traffic.
What set this incident apart from other such mishaps was the fact that China Telecom could manage to absorb this large amount of data and send it back out again without anyone noticing a disruption in service. In previous incidents, the data would have reached a dead end, and users would not have been able to connect.
Indeed, the nature of the routing would have been such that if someone were trying to reach a server only a few miles away, he might have seen his traffic routed thousands of miles to China, and back, instead.
This type of scenario is precisely why the Obama administration saw fit to increase the focus on cybersecurity. That said, it’s not something that’s easily prevented, and once again, we have no idea where the data went.
Is it something to be concerned about? You decide.