Cybersecurity

China adopts new strategy to cut off citizens from Internet

China has reportedly blocked the online banking portal of the world’s second largest bank, HSBC.

GreatFire, a nonprofit monitoring censorship in China, discovered the restriction on Tuesday.

{mosads}The move has hindered “the ability for both foreign and domestic companies to conduct day-to-day business inside the country,” GreatFire said.

Blocking HSBC appears to be a dramatic escalation of China’s longstanding practice of restricting local access to certain websites — restrictions known as the Great Firewall.

This is the first time the government has targeted financial services, however. And it appears to be part of a larger scheme unfolding in recent weeks, GreatFire noted.

The Chinese government has been eliminating access to thousands of websites and apps all using the same popular content delivery network, EdgeCast, GreatFire noted.

That includes sites like Drupal.org, which hosts the popular open source software behind thousands of websites including WhiteHouse.org. EdgeCast confirmed the reports on Monday.

Going after large networks, like HSBC and EdgeCast, instead of individual websites, hints at a new strategy for the Chinese.

“We can now reveal publicly that the authorities are … attempting to cut China off from the global Internet,” said GreatFire.

American tech companies have worked to expand their presence in China, accepting China’s conditions for operating there.

Apple and Facebook, in particular, have increased their efforts in recent months. The CEOs for both companies spent a week traveling around China, making public appearances and speaking with top government officials.

But concerns over state-sponsored cyberattacks have strained relations between the U.S. and China.

Chinese hackers were caught infiltrating Apple’s iCloud, iPhone and iPad products.

President Obama has repeatedly called on China to cease cyber espionage on foreign companies.

“We look to China to become an innovative economy that values the protection of intellectual property rights, and rejects cyber theft of trade secrets for commercial gain,” he said at last week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

“Companies need stable Internet access to move funds in and out of China,” GreatFire said. “Executives should demand that the Chinese government guarantee this.”

Tags China cybersecurity Hacking Internet freedom
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