Millions of Chinese Internet users were unable to load websites ending in .com, .net, or .org for about eight hours on Tuesday. The China Internet Network Information Center traced the problem to China’s domain name system, but a new discovery found that the majority of China’s Internet traffic was redirected to a home in Cheyenne, Wyo.
According to the New York Times, nearly three-quarters of China’s servers, which direct traffic behind China’s “Great Firewall,” routed traffic to Internet addresses owned by Sophidea Incorporated, a company headquartered at 2710 Thomes Ave. in Cheyenne.
The 1,700-square-foot brick house at that address is the same place that Reuters investigated in 2011 for being “home” to about 2,000 companies, including a shell company operated by the imprisoned former prime minister of Ukraine. The suburban house also served as the paper headquarters for a company that helped online poker websites evade Internet gambling bans, and another company that sold counterfeit truck parts to the Pentagon.
Sophidea redirects Internet traffic to help mask a user’s physical location and evade firewalls. Some believe now that the Internet outage in China may have been caused by an attempt to block Sophidea that backfired and instead redirected traffic to it.
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Chinese Internet traffic was also redirected to addresses owned by Dynamic Internet Technology, a service usually blocked in China for helping Internet users evade China’s firewall. Dynamic Internet Technology’s founder, Bill Xia, said the company had nothing to do with the traffic shift but suspected it was the result of China’s censors.
There is also a theory that the shift in China’s Internet traffic was caused by a cyberattack, but nothing is known for sure.