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China's Great Firewall Infects Other Countries 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the trial-run-successful dept.
angry tapir writes "A networking error has caused computers in Chile and the US to come under the control of the Great Firewall of China, redirecting Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube users to Chinese servers. Security experts are not sure exactly how this happened, but it appears that at least one ISP recently began fetching high-level DNS information, from what's known as a root DNS server, based in China. That server, operated out of China by Swedish service provider Netnod, returned DNS information intended for Chinese users, effectively spreading China's network censorship overseas."
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China's Great Firewall Infects Other Countries

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  • Chinese official: "Whoops..." (with big grin on face).

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Can't say that I'm surprised that it did happen.

      Especially now when Google has decided to pull out. And China does have an urge to control any information that they don't like. Which would be the majority of the internet.

      • Re:Uh Huh (Score:5, Informative)

        by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:10PM (#31629818) Journal

        Can't say that I'm surprised that it did happen.

        Especially now when Google has decided to pull out. And China does have an urge to control any information that they don't like. Which would be the majority of the internet.

        And still this has nothing to do with the Chinese government. It's the ISP's fault that erroneously configured their servers to use the Chinese root DNS server.

        • Re:Uh Huh (Score:4, Informative)

          by e2d2 (115622) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:21PM (#31630010)

          Well in fairness it has a little bit to do with China. That whole censorship thing.

        • by vvaduva (859950)

          It has a lot to do with it...China is manipulating DNS for political reasons. I would say that's a problem...

          • by sopssa (1498795) *

            ISP's in other countries are manipulating DNS too, but rather than for political reasons it's for child porn (there has been controversy when such lists are used for other purposes too) and copyright infringement (at least Italy blocks TPB, maybe others).

            CHINA will set up a mirror server for Chinese netizens to visit Websites whose domain names end with .com or .net, Sina.com reported today.

            Instead of being served by overseas domain servers for making visits, the new server will provide a domain name system or "DNS" function of its own, which will guarantee the security for netizens visiting from China and also raise the linking speed.

            So it's a DNS for Chinese people. Why does ISP's in other countries use it? And since they do, it's no surprise their results get changed too.

            • by Khyber (864651)

              "So it's a DNS for Chinese people. Why does ISP's in other countries use it?"

              Because they're just as controlling. Duh.

            • So you're saying that because some governments try to limit the spread of child porn, the PRC has the right to deceive the people of China into thinking there was no "Tank Man" or that democracy is evil?

              Nonsense. What they are doing will be remembered as a great injustice. It will be a cautionary tale for all societies with a chance to determine their own destiny. They will say, "We will not let it happen again."

              No amount of cheap wealth will hide what is happening. No one sympathizes. They are known as

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ircmaxell (1117387)
          Well, that's assuming that the ISP actually made that configuration. There are a number of other possibilities (Such as someone hacked those servers, someone silently redirect queries from the actual root server to the China one, etc). Regardless of how the issue came about, the fact that China had those systems in place makes them at least partially responsible (not from a legal perspective, but from a philosophical one) for people not reaching their destination...
          • Ya think that'd have been in the article then huh...
        • Ummmm.... It's my understanding from historical Chinese government interaction with their businesses that it tells Chinese businesses what to do, how to interact with the rest of the world. It's not like their government isn't a totalitarian government.

          IMO, it's self-defeating behavior to deny obvious possibilities.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        And however this happened, it's plausible that now China looks like it's throwing a tizzy at getting stood up to on censorship by Google.

    • Yeah, China accidentally...... had swedish DNS and US/Chile ISPs accidentally route through Chinese servers? Pretty sure the Chinese government can't control stupidity, unless you are suggesting that they have mind control abilities.
      • by jon3k (691256)
        i.root-servers.net (the root in China) is in the default root.hints file for BIND. Querying the Chinese root is the default configuration. Root servers are omnipotent deities you should always be able to trust them. If you can't trust one then some adjustment needs to be made. In this case removing the root from a location in which data could be intercepted and modified by a hostile government.
        • by Kalriath (849904)

          i.root-servers.net is not "the root in China". A single Anycast node of i.root-servers.net is in China. It would probably be a good idea to research such statements before making them.

    • Chilean official: "Whoops..." (with big grin on face).

      There, fixed that for ya.

  • Pfft. (Score:3, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:52PM (#31629480) Journal
    And their firewalls didn't detect the melamine in the imported DNS records? Pitiful.
  • Fine Google you want to leave China. Where you going to go when we take over the whole internet.
  • Nice headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:02PM (#31629662)
    The headlines now tell you absolutely nothing about the actual stories.
  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ClownPenis (1315157) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:03PM (#31629696)
    Misconfiguration of resolv.conf does not put China's firewall in your way. Add yourself to the tool belt.
    • Re:Misleading (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:39PM (#31630288)
      It's more than that. According to the post at https://lists.dns-oarc.net/pipermail/dns-operations/2010-March/005266.html [dns-oarc.net] someone is actively spoofing DNS replies to DNS request packets bound for entire class A and B net ranges.
    • by jon3k (691256)
      So when I put my ISPs name server in my resolv.conf and they (using the default bind configuration) query the i.root-server.net which is then filtered by the Chinese firewall - that's MY fault?

      ooooooooooookie dokie.
    • by Kalriath (849904)

      How is this insightful? It's wrong! Noone misconfigured their DNS resolvers, the problem is that for some reason a couple of major routing nodes latched on to the incorrect node for i.root-servers.net (each DNS root is not a single server, it's a bunch of geographically separate servers with the same IP doing Anycast announcements) and connected downstream servers began using the node in China to perform resolution.

  • by watanabe (27967)

    In other news, WW3 started slowly with Google and Dell pulling out of China. Infowars continued to increase when China's root nameserver began to propagate its information out to the developing world, areas that had been increasingly reliant on Chinese funding since the post-cold-War US' international power began to wane..

    • In other news, Skynet, err The Great Firewall of China, became self-aware at 8:14am EDT March 26, 2010

  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:08PM (#31629776) Homepage Journal

    (Firewall is subverted...)
    Damn you cyber-Mongorians!

  • China wants to rule the world. (Or at least make sure they make money somehow everywhere.) I can see the Chinese - all using Red Flag Linux (or some pirated copy of Wintendo) - gathering together to control all DNS machines. This was a warning - mess with us and we take your DNS down.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Your rampant racism not withstanding, that was an idiotic post.

      China cannot 'take our DNS down'. In worst case scenario, the world would just disconnect from China if that were to happen.

  • by datapharmer (1099455) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:14PM (#31629876) Homepage
    So if the entire world's DNS resolved to the Chinese firewall simultaneously would it DOS them to oblivion and end these shenanigans? I'd give up a day of using the internet to see that go down.
    • So if the entire world's DNS resolved to the Chinese firewall simultaneously would it DOS them to oblivion and end these shenanigans? I'd give up a day of using the internet to see that go down.

      Why don't we just slashdot it?

      • The scale of "THE WORLD WILL NOT TAKE YOUR CRAP ANYMORE" works better than "american geeks will attempt to dos your server"
    • The problem with your logic is, that if we stopped, it would work again.
      And if we wouldn’t stop, nobody would have Internet. Not us, and not the Chinese people.

      I think a botnet, DOSing them, makes more sense, and is already done.

      • by jon3k (691256)
        You just have to shut access to the Internet in China down for several hours a day every few days randomly. To use a car analogy - imagine if you had this car. It worked usually but randomly it stopped working for long periods of time. Eventually, even though it works SOMETIMES, it's not reliable enough to use or trust, so you just stop using it entirely.
  • Youtube, Wikipedia and hell even Slashdot have had access problems this week. 6th form conspiracy theorist asks "Is 'something' is going on"?
    • by buswolley (591500)
      yeah i could load up Foxnews easy, but Huffingtonpost was not accessible. Tea Bag Terrorists at it again
  • by Hadlock (143607) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:15PM (#31629902) Homepage Journal

    US DNS servers magically start pulling DNS data from chinese servers? Uh huh. Completely an "accident".

  • Huh (Score:4, Funny)

    by MrTripps (1306469) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:21PM (#31630006)
    I was wondering about that fortune cookie that said "All of your root servers are belonging to us."
  • by Lorens (597774) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:23PM (#31630030) Journal

    So any wrongful destination now has a lot of passwords. Especially IMAP and POP and suchlike, not even a need to set up a misleading website, you can play totally innocent.

    Prevention:

    1) Don't have a root server in a country that wants to censor information

    2) Implement free SSL certs so that it is no longer "normal" to just click through the SSL cert alert

    3) DNSCurve, DNSSEC, whatever

    4) Encrypt.

    5) Even when using encryption always use auth schemes that cannot be replayed afterwards. Without certs I don't think you can stop MITM, but much too many people use only one password for a lot of different things, at least that one won't be in the sniffer's hands.

    More?

    • 6) Invade. ;)
    • by Lorens (597774)

      1b) Don't allow unfiltered BGP updates from countries or companies you don't want running a DNS root server.

  • ancient chinese secret, huh?
  • hacker attack (Score:3, Informative)

    by CPE1704TKS (995414) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:36PM (#31630238)

    Come on, are we really being that stupid? Of course it was a hacker attack. The chances of an IP address "accidentally" being pointed to a Chinese one is remote.

    These Chinese hackers (and hackers in general) are getting more and more dangerous. If they hack the DNS servers, we're talking about a massive ability to steal passwords, since https is based on domain name and not IP address. If the DNS is configured to give incorrect DNS information, then we really could get hosed here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Spad (470073)

      It's not so much a matter of things being "pointed" anywhere, more a side-effect of anycasting the root DNS servers [wikipedia.org] so that if your current routing happens to put root servers in China as closer than any others, you'll get your results returned from them.

      Of course, one could argue that countries shouldn't be allowed to mess with root DNS servers that they host and have them return invalid addresses for valid domains, but that's besides the point here.

    • by linhux (104645)

      If they hack the DNS servers, we're talking about a massive ability to steal passwords, since https is based on domain name and not IP address.

      SSL uses domain names for verification, but it does not rely on them for authentication. If you hijack an SSL-enabled website, you would also need to steel their private key.

      • by ekhben (628371)

        Or have a trusted CA operator sign over your private key.

        Not that there's a Chinese CA operator in the trusted key set or an... er.

        Don't mind me, I'm just rabble rousing. I do not believe that CNNIC is any less trustworthy than VeriSign. Or maybe more accurately, I do not expect that VeriSign is any more trustworthy than CNNIC :-) Oops, rabble rousing again.

        Use 2FA for online banking, neither HTTPS nor DNS is safe.

    • by jon3k (691256)
      haha what? wow take off the tin foil hate dude. the chinese intercept dns requests. it's part of the great firewall of china. i.root-servers.net is one of the root servers and some ISP DNS servers in other countries query it (oh probably i dont know, 1 out of 13 times, give or take?). see where this is going? affecting anything outside of china was completely inadvertent, not that they care.
  • by fulldecent (598482)

    Maybe offtopic, but how does DNCSEC affect DNS level censorship?

    • by ekhben (628371)

      In principle, DNSSEC prevents this form of attack because you cannot form a chain of trust through a hijacked answer.

      In practice, no-one checks the result for a signature failure, because it's Hard to know what the right thing is to do, and it's Pointless until the roots are signed.

  • The issue I have... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XB-70 (812342) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:54PM (#31630518)
    is that all the problems with China seem to be one way. We don't hear of Chinese complaining about melamine in products from Western countries. It always seems to be about hacking, cheating, deception, malfaisance, obfuscation, corruption and blackmail.

    Heck, even Dell is pulling out.

    So, because the Chinese persist in behaving badly it's time for internet war. Let's band together and shut 'em down. Close off internet to China and see how they like it - after all, the TLD's are controlled by the U.S. As to messaging etc. they can phone and fax.

    Sorry for such a rant but there has got to be a consequence for the level and voracity of the issues and problems that emanate from China - especially when the government there is never responsible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jizziknight (976750)
      Except that the Chinese government would be perfectly happy to be cut off from the rest of the Internet. If we cut them off, they can just blame it on the US and claim they've done nothing to censor anything. You'd be giving them exactly what they wanted.
      • by rsborg (111459)

        You'd be giving them exactly what they wanted.

        Which is what? An economic collapse? A justification for war?

        The Chinese government is just like any other government (they have more control over their populace). Chinese in general are really fond of business opportunities, which get harmed by this action.

      • by RoboRay (735839)

        No, the Chinese government does not desire to simply cut off all access to the outside world. If they wanted to do that, they could do it themselves, today.

        They want access, and more, they need access, as it is essential to them growing their economy.

        What they actually want is total control over that access. And now they are releasing yet another poison out into the rest of the world. Shutting them down would be a very good thing. Payback is a bitch.

    • We don't hear of Chinese complaining about melamine in products from Western countries.

      Yeah; They just complain about trivial things like labour exploitation, poor wages, health and safety lapses, pollution, and foreign support for censorship technologies and the communist regime. It's not like the West has done anything wrong here!!!

  • Remember that quote [wikiquote.org]? "The Net views censorship as damage and, sometimes, routes into it..."

    That server, operated out of China by Swedish service provider Netnod

    Oh, yes, another one of those "Why can't we be more like Europe?!" moments...

    • by FliesLikeABrick (943848) <ryan@u13.net> on Friday March 26, 2010 @04:46PM (#31632186)
      As far as I know, NetNod was not operating this i-root instance that was returning the censored answers.

      I was following along with this on the dns-operations mailing list. This pertained to i-root in Asia, and various i-root node operators said "this is not our box". It was a rogue root server (whether installed by the Chinese government or an ISP guided by the government's hand) (as far as netnod/i-root is concerned) announcing the anycast block used by i-root. In doing so they basically advertised themselves as a root node for i-root and it doesn't seem like this was Netnod-affiliated at all. The summary (I didn't re-read the article to see if that said the same) implies that netnod was running this intentionally and serving up Chinese-censored results for affected sites. All this would take is a person with the ability to have their upstreams accept BGP announcements for the anycast block for i-root and run the server. Then any requests to i-root that are topologically "close" will start using this node.

      Before anyone continually says that an ISP must have intentionally configured their servers to use this root, they should read up on IP anycasting and read the thread on the dns-operations mailing list instead of these 2nd/3rd/4th-hand summaries that are beginning to skew the facts.

      https://lists.dns-oarc.net/pipermail/dns-operations/2010-March/005260.html
  • I live and work in Chile, and know the network problems well here. Here is my take on it.

    I seen that nic.cl had several of their DNS servers that where failing about three weeks ago (I just figured someone would figure it out and fix it, guess not ). Any .cl using nic.cl as their primary dns server ( what most .cl domains use by default rather than having their own), was having failures based on which of the dns servers at nic.cl they were using (I think two of them where failing).

    Here is what I seen happen

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