Much of the Internet was inaccessible to Chinese users for more than an hour yesterday after a domain name system error – believed by some to have been the result of a censorship error – led Web-surfers to a blank page hosted by an American technology company.
While users were able to access Web-addresses hosted by China’s top level, .cn domain, the South China Morning Post reports that .com, .net, and .org domains would not resolve properly. Instead, users attempting to visit sites not hosted by China’s TLD were being redirected to a site owned an operated by Dynamic Internet Technology, a U.S. company that touts itself as a developer of censorship-defeating software. The company also reportedly helps host the Epoch Times and other sites banned by the Chinese government.
The South China Morning Post spoke with Dynamic Internet Technology CEO and founder, Bill Xia. He confirmed that the redirect website did indeed belong to his company but attributed the DNS issues to an error in China’s massive Web censorship system, often referred to as the Great Firewall of China.
“We noticed a sudden increase of traffic and suspected we were under attack,” Xia told the South China Morning Post. “Our security system has activated a protection mechanism so visitors to the address are not able to see any thing.”
Xia went on to claim that the incident bore similarities to another more than ten years ago in which China’s DNS restrictions backfired and routed Internet users to the website of a spiritual group known as the Falun Gong, a group the Chinese government reportedly considers a cult. It should be noted that the Epoch Times, one of Dynamic Internet Technologies clients, is often associated with the Falun Gong.
In contrast to Xia’s assertion, numerous reports indicate that Chinese officials and other hardliners are blaming the outage on a cyberattack.