Thursday, January 23, 2014

You Think YOU Have 'Net Problems?

Think again, coz you could be one of 500 million people in China who had NO inter-tubes access yesterday.  From the NYT (subscription may be required):
SAN FRANCISCO — The story behind what may have been the biggest Internet failure in history involves an unlikely cast of characters, including a little-known company in a drab building in Wyoming and the world’s most elite army of Internet censors a continent away in China.
On Tuesday, most of China’s 500 million Internet users were unable to load websites for up to eight hours. Nearly every Chinese user and Internet company, including major services like Baidu and, was affected.

Technology experts say China’s own Great Firewall — the country’s vast collection of censors and snooping technology used to control Internet traffic in and out of China — was most likely to blame, mistakenly redirecting the country’s traffic to several sites normally blocked inside China, some connected to a company based in the Wyoming building.


“I have never seen a bigger outage,” said Heiko Specht, an Internet analyst at Compuware, a technology company based in Detroit. “Half of the world’s Internet users trying to access the Internet couldn’t.”

Those domain-name servers, which act like an Internet switchboard, routed traffic from some of China’s most popular sites to an Internet address that, according to records, is registered to Sophidea, a company based, at least on paper, in that Wyoming building, in Cheyenne. It is unclear where the company or its servers are physically based, however.

With so much Internet traffic flooding Sophidea’s Internet address, Mr. Specht said he believed it would have taken less than a millisecond for the company’s servers to crash.
Yup.  Domain Name Server crashes or other such DNS malfunctions will do it every time.  As will clue-free Chinese censors who direct an entire nation's internet traffic to an obscure location in Wyoming.

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