The mainland’s “Great Cannon” programme that can hijack incoming internet traffic and direct it against any website deemed unfriendly to the Communist Party, has been in development for about a year, three sources have said.
The tool marked a shift by Beijing towards an offensive strategy in censoring the internet, and could hinder attempts by mainland tech companies to take their brands to an international market, an expert said.
According to a report by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto released on Friday, the “Great Cannon” was aimed at shutting down websites and services that help mainland internet surfers bypass the “Great Firewall”, which blocks domestic access to information the authorities deem sensitive.
It works by hijacking unwanted web traffic and redirecting it to websites of China’s choosing in such large quantities that it can overwhelm servers and knock them offline.
“The system has been in operation for about one year, and it reflects a brand-new strategy since it’s taking an offensive attitude rather than the Great Wall’s tactics of focusing on defence,” said the chief executive with a mobile technology firm, who has knowledge of the mainland’s internet security efforts.
“It has proved to be efficient so far since the majority of its targets have been successfully disrupted.”
Beijing has intensified censorship efforts in the past months, including cracking down on the use of virtual private network (VPN) connections, which allow mainlanders to bypass internet restrictions, and strengthening the “Great Firewall”… see more