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China’s ‘Great Canon’ is its latest weapon to scale up internet censorship within the country

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China’s potential to conceive Internet havoc has gathered quite the headlines recently. While the Great Firewall (a popular nick given to China’s ruthless internet censorship) has been staging brutal attacks on sites and organizations that lies within its perimeters, it seems that China might have gone a step ahead this time.

According to a report from Citizen Lab, China has developed a vicious tool named “Great Canon” which holds enough potential to carry out large scale devastation by intercepting and redirecting internet traffic to targeted websites. In technical terms, we call it as denial-of-service attack.

The report comes out as a result of thorough study and investigation of the recent denial-of-service attacks faced by the famous repository website, Github. The attack lasted for around 5 days and is considered to be, in Github’s own terms, one of the biggest ever attack on the website.

China has been held as a suspect from the very first day. The attack was so perfectly carried out that only an experienced party could do that. Now as per Citizen Lab- an ICT, security and human rights lab based within the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, China is in possession of a new internet weapon that could target any site on web and perform such attacks whenever they wish to.

It is also claimed that Github’s attackers used the Cannon to redirect that traffic from Chinese search engine giant Baidu to cripple the website. The Cannon appears to leverage an analytics script commonly distributed by the Baidu search engine. Normally, this script sends data back to Baidu whenever a user visits a website that it is running on. But according to Citizen Lab, instead of sending a packet of data, Great Canon redirected the user to Github.

That once again brings China back into the frame. The research firm has pointed out several other similarities between The Great Firewall and Great Canon and says that both of them are being hosted under the same shadow. A similar attack was performed on The GreatFire and all the traces again leads us to China. China, as usual, simply dusted off all the allegations and denied to have possession of any such tool.

The most effective defense against tools like Quantum and the Great Cannon is the universal encryption of web traffic, according to the report.

Was the attack on Github performed at its full potential? Maybe or maybe not. If not, we can only imagine the havoc that the Great Canon can spread across global internet world.


Senior Writer

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