Is China Altering Web Traffic?

China appears to be using transparent proxies or a similar means to censor information delivered to Internet users inside the country, and to track potential dissidents.

Many companies use these proxy servers to filter the Internet traffic provided to employees working on company time. But it appears that China is using this technology is a way that makes it appear that other services are to blame.

Google discovered that problems with Gmail from within China came in the form of an attack that caused the Web application to freeze when a user took certain actions, such as clicking the "send" button.

"There is no technical issue on our side—we have checked extensively," a Google spokesperson said in an e-mail statement. "This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail."

The attack appears to block the site only sporadically, halting access to the Web application for a few minutes and then allowing the user to again connect to Gmail, Google says.

The first time I read about network monitoring detection was in Frank Herbert's 1977 novel The Dosadi Experiment. In the following quote, note that the user had planned on this intrusion, and was prepared to detect the interference:

The evidence began with a slowed response at her computer terminal. Someone was monitoring. Whoever had taken her bait wanted to make sure she was expendable...

The microsecond delay from the monitoring triggered a disconnect on her telltale circuit, removing the evidence of her preparations before anyone could find it.

Via Technology Review.

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