For years China has utilised The Great Firewall of China, its state of the art censorship tool, to prevent the free sharing of information across the country.
Read more: 5 Problems with Sharing Data in China
Now, security authorities in the People’s Republic have developed a new string to their bow. Or should we say cannon? The Great Cannon of China is a new censorship technique that’s causing headaches for businesses and media organisations across the country.
What is the Great Cannon of China?
While the Great Firewall of China is a (theoretically) all-seeing ‘shield’ that prevents Chinese citizens from visiting specific websites or pieces of information, the Great Cannon is more of an offensive tool. Using a method known as ‘distributed denial of service’ (DDoS), it is utilised to flood traffic onto specific websites, causing their servers to crash under the strain.
China security experts have pinpointed at least two occasions when authorities have used this method to limit the visibility of western sites.
Researchers at the Universities of Berkeley and Toronto say that traffic intended for Chinese search giant Baidu was intercepted by the Great Cannon and directed at GitHub and GreatFire.org.
After 113 hours of sustained DDoS attacks our defenses are holding. We will keep our status at yellow until the threat has subsided.
— GitHub Status (@githubstatus) March 30, 2015
GitHub is a site for developers that has previously been criticised by the Chinese regime for providing technology that enables users to circumvent The Great Firewall, while the Cyberspace Administration of China has in the past referred to GreatFire.org as an “anti-Chinese organisation” for the way that it ‘mirrors’ western sites to allow access in China.
“A significant escalation in state information control”
It’s clear that Chinese authorities can now compromise sites and providers that were previously able to circumvent The Great Shield, giving them a new tactic in restricting the cultural influence of the west.
However, the university researchers say that the new tactics could have even more serious connotations and could be used to spy on anyone across the world who accesses information hosted in China in a similar way to how the N.S.A. in America was able to undergo targeted web surveillance regimes.
The report says:
“The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control. It is the normalisation of widespread and public use of an attack tool to enforce censorship.
“Deployment of the Great Cannon may also reflect a desire to counter what the Chinese government perceives as US hegemony in cyberspace.”
How Could the Great Cannon Affect Business in China?
While the use of this new offensive tool is still quite a new phenomenon, it does extend the Chinese state’s power to discriminate against websites – and businesses – that are seen to be flouting CCP guidelines. This adds an element of uncertainty to the business environment of the East.
More specifically, it could also spell trouble for web-based file sharing solutions. If they aren’t already subject to Chinese internet restrictions and have managed to circumvent The Great Firewall, the adoption of this new technique suggests that some data transfer proprietors may not be able to avoid it permanently.
How Maytech Helps Businesses Share Data
Working alongside Chinese telecoms companies, and using a Hong Kong-based data centre, Maytech allows users to share data to and from China through completely secure, uncongested SFTP networks. Quatrix China by Maytech bypasses Chinese censorship programs – while also using local proxies to ensure fast file transfer in remote locations.
Find out more about Maytech’s secure file transfer solutions today.