Oracle confirms China Telecom internet traffic 'misdirections'

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Oracle’s Internet Intelligence division has confirmed today the findings of an academic paper published two weeks ago that accused China of “hijacking the vital internet backbone of western countries.”

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The research paper was authored by researchers from the US Naval War College and Tel Aviv University and it made quite a few waves online after it was published. Researchers accused China Telecom, one of China’s biggest state-owned internet service providers, of hijacking and detouring internet traffic through its normally-closed internet infrastructure.

Some security experts contested the research paper’s findings because it didn’t come from an authoritative voice in the world of internet BGP hijacks, but also because the paper touched on many politically sensitive topics, such as China’s cyber-espionage activities and how China used BGP hijacks as a way to circumvent the China-US cyber pact of 2015.

But today, Doug Madory, Director of Oracle’s Internet Analysis division (formerly Dyn), confirmed that China Telecom has, indeed, engaged in internet traffic “misdirection.”

“I don’t intend to address the paper’s claims around the motivations of these actions,” said Madori. “However, there is truth to the assertion that China Telecom (whether intentionally or not) has misdirected internet traffic (including out of the United States) in recent years.”

“I know because I expended a great deal of effort to stop it in 2017,” Madori said.

He then goes on to detail several of China Telecom’s BGP route “misdirections,” most of which have involved hijacking US-to-US traffic and sending it via mainland China before returning it to the US.

china-telekom-bgp-hijack.png
Image: Oracle Internet Intelligence

Madori recommended that internet service providers support up-and-coming BGP security standards such as RPKI, as a way to prevent such internet traffic “misdirections” from taking place in the first place.

Efforts to secure the BGP protocol, as a whole, have intensified in recent years after the number of BGP hijack incidents has steadily gone up.

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