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China Deploys New Weapon For Online Censorship in Form of 'great Cannon'

By The Washington Post

April 10, 2015

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Two recent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks represent some of the first uses of a new tool in China's cyber arsenal, dubbed the "Great Cannon," an allusion to China's "Great Firewall" censorship infrastructure, according to a report from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs.

The report says two recent DDoS attacks targeting GreatFire, a website that helps Chinese residents circumvent the Great Firewall, and open source programming website GitHub, were launched using the Great Cannon, which took control of millions of Chinese Web browsers to send the floods of traffic to the two websites.

"There's no other reasonable explanation for the technical findings here than that this was an attack launched by the Chinese government," says report co-author Sarah McKune.

Previous reports had linked the attacks to the Great Firewall, but the Citizen Lab report says the Great Cannon is a distinct tool, although it appears to share some similarities with the Great Firewall. The report also says the Great Cannon's capabilities go beyond launching DDoS attacks and could include spreading malware to any computer visiting Chinese websites that do not use encryption.

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