PBS's Newshour had a disturbingly eye-opening story focusing on state-run Chinese entities deliberately detouring Internet traffic through their sites:
RAY SUAREZ: When all the communications from tens of thousand of computer networks was routed to China, that included all the Web traffic, e-mail, and instant messages to and from dot.mil -- that's the Department of Defense -- and dot.gov -- those are U.S. governments departments. The U.S. Senate and NASA also had all their traffic diverted.The piece explains for the layperson (that's me!) how this works:
Companies like Dell, Yahoo!, Microsoft and IBM had their data diverted by China Telecom, too. On that day in April, officers logging into a Pentagon Web site ended up looking at an image that came to their screen via China.
It's not clear what China did with the Internet traffic routed through its computers, and it's not clear if the data that passed through China was saved to be examined later.
RAY SUAREZ: Normally, the Internet works by swiftly finding the shortest, most efficient trip between two computers anywhere on Earth.I've been saying this more and more: "Welcome back to the Cold War." Or maybe we never left.
Electronic routers direct the traffic flow, insuring the shortest path, like these green lines here. But, back in April, electronic communication looking for the shortest route was sent through China.
Watch the red line. For 18 minutes, the traffic on 35,000 to 50,000 computer networks elsewhere in the world began flowing toward China, before getting routed to their final destinations. China Telecom had created a massive detour.
But traffic didn't stop. The affected computer connections took just a tiny fraction of a second longer. Whether someone was logging into check a bank balance, sending a child's photo to grandma, or shopping online, the Net still worked. ...
RAY SUAREZ: One of the architects of the modern Internet, Rodney Joffe, said this diversion was a very big deal. He says it was caused when computer routers in China belonging to China Telecom began signaling to other computer routers on the Internet that they could provide the quickest path between different computers .
RODNEY JOFFE: They, all of a sudden, began announcing the fact that they were an optimal path to about 15 percent of the destinations on the Internet, that, in fact, they were a way to get to a large number of destinations on the Internet, when, in fact, they were not. We have never seen that before on this scale ever.