Chinese government seemingly blocked access to Facebook.net causing a DDoS scare

Photo by claudiodivizia, 123rf

Photo by claudiodivizia, 123rf

The government is seemingly controlling more aspects of our online digital world these days. The Chinese government censors controlling the “Great Firewall of China” are suspected to have inadvertently blocked access to pages that call out to connect.facebook.net. It is a resource used by Facebook like buttons.

According to Krebs Security, the apparent mistake was quickly fixed, but in the meantime the block was cached by many Chinese networks effectively blocking millions of Chinese web users from visiting a large number of websites that are typically uncensored. Over the course of the 24 hours during the incident, web requests from China for a large number of websites were being redirected to wpkg.org.

Incident considered to be a likely mistake, not an intentional act

Wpkg.org is a harmless site that hosts an open-source, automated software deployment upgrade removal program for Windows. A researcher named Nicholas Weaver has delved deep into the subject of Chinese censorship tools at the International Computer Science Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. He agrees that the blocking of connect.Facebook.net is likely a mistake.

Nicholas Weaver stated the following about the incident:

“Any page that had a Facebook Connect element on it that was unencrypted and was visited from within China would instead get this thing which would reload the main page of wpkg.org, Weaver said, noting that while Facebook.com always encrypts users’ connections, sites that rely on Facebook “like” buttons and related resources draw those from connect.facebook.net.”

This censorship is considered to be nothing more than a likely mistake on part of government officials because the issue was quickly corrected and the Chinese censors do not benefit from an act such as this. The overall result of this event was massive confusion and paranoia.

This is not the first time that something like this has happened. In January 2014, Chinese censors attempted to block Greatfire.org and instead ended up inadvertently blocking all Chinese web surfers from accessing a majority of internet sites resulting in one of the largest internet outages ever in China.

Have a safe (malware-free) day!