On Tuesday, the Chinese Internet went almost completely screwy, with many of the biggest websites, including microblogging website Weibo, completely down for many users. Web analytic firms say today that for almost eight hours around three-quarters of the country’s domain name system servers were inaccessible for hundreds of millions of mainland users.
So where was the traffic going? Well, according to Nicole Perloth of the New York Times, a lot of it went to this house in Wyoming:
The house, which sits at 2710 Thomes Avenue in the small city of Cheyenne, doesn’t look like much. Back in 2011, Reuters reported that the 1,700-square-foot brick house had little activity other than “a woman who steps outside for smoke breaks.”
The house, however, serves a bigger purpose. It is the registered home for more than 2,000 companies. One of these companies, Sophidea Incorporated, was the owner of the IP addresses to which Chinese traffic was routed, Perloth reports.
Why would China send traffic to this house? Originally, there were rumours of some kind of nefarious hack attack, but now the theory has moved onto something less sinister: Human error.
While it’s not clear what Sophidea Inc. does, a quick Google search for its name finds some alleged links to shady online practices. Given that another website that received lots of mis-directed traffic yesterday was Dynamic Internet Technology, a Falun Gong-linked company that runs a service designed to help people get around China’s Great Firewall, the Times and other outlets are reporting that experts suspect China was trying to block these websites but somehow accidentally sent lots and lots of traffic to them.
It remains to be seen if this theory holds up, but if the mistake was truly an issue with the Great Firewall, its a little ironic.
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