Washington is all a flap after it was discovered that highly sensitive Internet traffic on US government and military websites was briefly "hijacked" and routed through Chinese servers earlier this year.
A report to the US Congress said that for 18 minutes on April 8, a Chinese state-owned telecommunications firm rerouted email traffic to and from websites of the US Senate, the Department of Defense, along with "many others" including NASA and Department of Commerce. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission's annual report said that 15 per cent of the Internet' was routed through Chinese servers during this brief period.
The telco responsible was named as China Telecom, and the US military is uncertain if it was intentional and sanctioned by Beijing. The rerouting began at a smaller Chinese Internet Service Provider (ISP) called IDC China Telecommunication before being propagated by China Telecom. Commission vice chair Carolyn Bartholomew told the committee that the scale and the extensive intelligence and reconnaissance components of recent high profile, China-based computer exploitations suggest that there continues to be some level of state support for these activities.
Leading Web security firm McAfee has blamed China for a rise in cyberattacks with political objectives. In its report it said that the White House, Department of Homeland Security, US Secret Service and Department of Defense, McAfee said in its report last year. Commissioner Larry M. Wortzel was worried that not only would the Chinese spooks get 18 minutes of email from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff they would get the IP addresses of everybody that communicated, and be able to engineer an address to plant a virus.
According to AFP the commission on Wednesday recommended Congress call on the administration of President Barack Obama to formally investigate the "volume and seriousness of exploitations and attacks" targeting federal agencies that handle sensitive military and diplomatic information.