What do you expect to come up when you search for a term in Google or Bing? Page after page of relevant results, right? Wrong, buster – at least if you're a customer of an ISP that engages in search query redirection. Late last night, a report surfaced that reveals that several ISPs, with the help of a company called PaxFire, have secretly been hijacking your traffic when you search for a certain major keywords. Why? Revenue, of course. Is your ISP on the list?
According to National Defense Magazine, China's state-controlled telecommunications company hijacked 15 percent of all Internet traffic for a full 18 minutes in April. That might not sound like much, but consider that the hijacked traffic included data from U.S. military and civilian organizations, as well as that of U.S. allies.
If it's the fear of the unknown that gives you goosebumps, then perhaps scariest of all is that no one outside of China is authorized to disclose exactly what happened to the terabytes data once the traffic entered China. Did China eavesdrop on unprotected communications, like emails and IMs? Maybe they manipulated data, says Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee.
Hijacking data isn't anything new, and actually happens a few times a year, Alpervotich said. But what's startling about this particular incident is that the China Telecom managed to reroute all that data and send it back out without anyone noticing a disruption in service, whereas most past attempts resulted in data reaching a dead end.