[LINK] 'The Hidden Story of China Telecom’s BGP Hijacking'

Stephen Loosley StephenLoosley at outlook.com
Mon Oct 29 12:09:37 AEDT 2018

‘China’s Maxim – Leave No Access Point Unexploited: The Hidden Story of China Telecom’s BGP Hijacking’

By Chris C. Demchak, U.S. Naval War College  and  Yuval Shavitt, Tel Aviv University

Recommended Citation:
Demchak, Chris C. and Shavitt, Yuval (2018) "China’s Maxim – Leave No Access Point Unexploited: The Hidden Story of China Telecom’s BGP Hijacking," Military Cyber Affairs: Vol. 3 : Iss. 1 , Article 7.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.5038/2378-0789.3.1.1050

Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/mca/vol3/iss1/7
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Surprisingly, the voluntary 2015 Xi Obama agreement stopping military forces from hacking commercial enterprises for economic gain did appear to reduce Chinese theft from western targets.

China’s technological development process, however, was still dependent on massive expropriation of foreign R&D

This necessitated new ways to get information while still technically adhering to the agreement

Since the agreement only covered military activities, Chinese corporate state champions could be tasked with taking up the slack

But even Chinese multinationals, such as Huawei or ZTE, were already being viewed with suspicion. Instead the government opted to leverage a seemingly innocuous player – one that is normally viewed as a passive service provider – to target the foundational infrastructure of the internet to bypass the agreement, avoid detection, and provide the necessary access to information.

Enter China Telecom, a large state champion telecommunications company.
While the 2015 agreement prohibited direct attacks on computer networks, it did nothing to prevent the hijacking of the vital internet backbone of western countries.

Conveniently, China Telecom has ten strategically placed Chinese controlled internet points of presence’ (PoPs) across the internet backbone of North America

Vast rewards can be reaped from the hijacking, diverting, and then copying of information - rich traffic going into or crossing the United States and Canada – often unnoticed and then delivered with only small delays

This article will show how this hijacking works, and how China employs its conveniently distributed points of presence (PoPs) in western democracies’ telecommunications systems to redirect internet traffic through China for malicious use

It will show the actual routing paths, give a summary of how one hijacks parts of the internet by inserting these nodes, and outline the major security implications.

These Chinese PoPs are found all over the world including Europe and Asia. The prevalence of and demonstrated ease with which one can simply redirect and copy data by controlling key transit nodes buried in a nation’s infrastructure requires an urgent policy response
To that end, we recommend an ‘Access Reciprocity’ strategy for vulnerable democracies – one that is then collectively coordinated across allies.

The goal is to restrict China’s internet hijacking options and fix the imbalance in information access and potential losses
Any single nation can unilaterally pursue this policy, but it will take the sum of democratic civil societies to have the scale to effectively deter this behavior over the longer term (snip) ….


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