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US Government, Military Websites Redirected to Chinese Servers

Photo Courtesy - Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. government and military Internet traffic was briefly redirected through computer servers in China earlier this year, according to a report that is to be released Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The report says telecommunications companies in China disrupted the Internet for only about 18 minutes -- but they were a big 18 minutes.  They "hijacked" about 15 percent of the world's online traffic, affecting NASA, the U.S. Senate, the four branches of the military and the office of the Secretary of Defense.

A draft copy of the report, obtained by ABC News, said, "For about 18 minutes on April 8, 2010, China Telecom advertised erroneous network traffic routes that instructed U.S. and other foreign Internet traffic to travel through Chinese servers."

While the Internet "hijacking" incident was initially reported on in April, it had not been previously disclosed that the U.S. government was affected by the incident.  The report states, "This incident affected traffic to and from U.S. government (''.gov'') and military (''.mil'') sites, including those for the Senate, the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many others.  Certain commercial websites were also affected, such as those for Dell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and IBM."

Officials at the State Department and Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the report.

The Commission report does not discuss why the telecommunications firms rerouted the Internet traffic but it does mention the possible security risks.

"Although the Commission has no way to determine what, if anything, Chinese telecommunications firms did to the hijacked data, incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications.  This level of access could enable surveillance of specific users or sites.  It could disrupt a data transaction and prevent a user from establishing a connection with a site.  It could even allow a diversion of data to somewhere that the user did not intend."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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