China's Great Firewall directs millions to open door to free surfing

It's believed that human error caused a glitch in the country's firewall, sending people to a company that sells anti-censorship technology to Chinese citizens.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Well, isn't this ironic?

China's formidable Great Firewall, which blocks access to all sorts of Web services and perceived threats to the country's people, was the victim of a glitch on Wednesday that saw hundreds of millions of Chinese Web users attempting to access allowed sites being redirected to the home page of Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT), a company that sells technology allowing Chinese citizens to get around the firewall.

Although state-run media outlets have said that the glitch was a successful hack, people apparently familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that no hacking attempts were identified, making those sources wonder whether simple human error caused the issue when modifications were made to the firewall.

The hole gave many Chinese citizens their first glimpse into the outside digital world. For years, China has been blocking Web sites, including DIT's, for a myriad reasons, including alleged threats to its government structure and a desire to limit comments on certain topics.

Official reports out of China say an investigation is ongoing into the matter. It's believed that China's Domain Name Service erroneously directed users who were trying to access sites without the ".cn" domain to the DIT Web site. According to Reuters, the DIT site was seeing 1 million page requests per second at the height of the glitch.