Strange snafu misroutes domestic US Internet traffic through China Telecom

Ars Technica has the article Strange snafu misroutes domestic US Internet traffic through China Telecom.

Telecom with ties to China’s government misdirected traffic for two and a half years.

China Telecom, the large international communications carrier with close ties to the Chinese government, misdirected big chunks of Internet traffic through a roundabout path that threatened the security and integrity of data passing between various providers’ backbones for two and a half years, a security expert said Monday. It remained unclear if the highly circuitous paths were intentional hijackings of the Internet’s Border Gateway Protocol or were caused by accidental mishandling.

I don’t want to scare anybody, but … I have been meaning to write about a recent incident where I received a blackmail email with my email password in it. I realized that my email account, which I had set up many years ago, was not set up to use even minimal password security (and it had a weak password). I fixed both problems, and ignored the blackmail threat.

If you use a password over the internet and the destination uses an unencrypted protocol (http) instead of the encrypted protocol (https), then your password can easily be stolen. This rerouting gimmick mentioned in this article would be an ideal way to carry out this theft. Many browsers show a green padlock in the address area to show that the trip to the destination is secure.

If you think https is totally secure, then read the ars technica article Why you probably shouldn’t be doing work on that in-flight Wi-Fi

Until last year, Gogo was also issuing its own certificates for some secure websites—including Google. That allowed them to perform content screening even in apparently secure Google searches.

I just found the Mozilla article What do the security warning codes mean?, It explains some messages I have received from Firefox, but did not fully understand the significance until preparing this post.

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