Around 3:10 pm Tuesday, China's top-level domain name root servers malfunctioned, leading to a widespread domain name outage. Many websites were redirected to 188.8.131.52, an IP address that is believed by analysts to belong to a US-based website run by Dynamic Internet Technology, which has denied any responsibility for the incident.
This is a severe attack against the Chinese Internet. It is necessary to make clear what is behind it and what specific consequences have been caused.
We strongly require Washington, which maintains absolute control of the Internet to launch an investigation and publish the findings. If the US fails to deal with the incident properly, Chinese trust toward the US over the Internet will be damaged. The incident may even become a prominent example for those seeking to conduct Web hacking against the US.
Of the 13 root servers that manage global Internet traffic, 10 are located in the US. The US is even more hegemonic in the virtual world than in the real world. Top-level domain names for both Iraq and Libya were blocked by Washington in wartime, leading to the two countries' "evaporation" from the global Internet.
Theoretically, such a threat could be imposed on China anytime the US wants. Washington is capable of striking China physically through its virtual power. For instance, today we can hardly isolate our electrical power grid from the global Internet. It is beyond thinking about if cities like Beijing and Shanghai seeing chaos in their power grid for three consecutive days.
China lags behind the US in terms of social understanding about virtual space.
Compared with other countries, it is more urgent for China to consolidate its Internet security. As a rising power, China is seen as a competitor by the US. But meanwhile, China's IT structure is still very weak, and China cannot simply isolate itself for the sake of security. It can rely upon no one else but itself to find out the way to build proper "Internet defenses" for such a complicated developing country.
China has to accelerate development and innovation of key Internet technology, which is the prerequisite to ensure security.
Systematic collaboration is also needed, including top-level strategic design, cooperation between government agencies and between government and enterprises, as well as fostering social awareness of Internet security.
Washington has refused to transfer Internet control to the UN despite worldwide appeals. The US own national interest dominates virtual society, which is the biggest tacit rule of the global Internet.
China should be alarmed by the serious DNS outage, and take action to avoid as many traps on the Internet as possible. We cannot remove all those traps, but we can become increasingly sophisticated in dealing with them.