CHINA SECURITY: The Terrible Irony Behind CloudFlare’s Deal With Baidu
This news analysis was originally dispatched as part of Epoch Times’ China email newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters by filling your email in the “China D-brief” box under this article.
A new Web service called Yunjiasu was launched in China, through a partnership between San Francisco-based security company CloudFlare and China’s copy of Google, Baidu.
The two companies are offering a new service called Yunjiasu, which helps fix the slow Internet speeds caused by the Chinese regime’s system for Internet censorship, known as the Great Firewall. It makes foreign websites run faster in China, and makes Chinese websites run faster elsewhere.
The New York Times described this partnership as one of “trust” that “could prove to be a new model for American tech firms that are considering doing business in the delicate areas of China’s tech industry.”
But the irony is that the Chinese regime has used Baidu to launch the same type of cyberattacks that CloudFlare protects against, using the same system that CloudFlare is now helping to run more efficiently.
The cyberattack against GitHub, the most widely used coding website in the world, was widely reported in March.
The attack allegedly targeted a page on GitHub with tools to help break through the Great Firewall, from anti-censorship group GreatFire.org.
Several cybersecurity researchers analyzed the attack and found it was connected to Baidu. Anyone who visited a Web page with scripts from Baidu had part of their traffic redirected to attack GitHub.
It turned out that the Chinese regime had weaponized the Great Firewall and Baidu to create what researchers at Citizen Lab called the “Great Cannon.” They stated “Great Cannon intercepted foreign Web traffic directed at Baidu—China’s Google search engine equivalent—and redirected it back with malicious code.”
It’s unclear whether Baidu was complicit in the attacks, but as Epoch Times reported at the time, researchers were scratching their heads over the “widespread involvement of Baidu sites in hosting the malicious code which launches the attack.”
The type of cyberattack launched by Great Canon is called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which can take a website offline by overloading it with fake traffic.
It just happens that protecting against DDoS attacks is one of the main services offered by CloudFlare.
CloudFlare, a company designed to protect websites against DDoS attacks has now partnered with a company used by Chinese authorities to launch DDoS attacks—to help a Chinese censorship system run better, which launches DDoS attacks.
CloudFlare did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
To make matters worse, in what New York Times frames as this new culture of “trust,” it said CloudFlare gave its intellectual property to Baidu, for technology it uses to manage and speed up Internet traffic, and has also helped Baidu engineers implement this technology.
So not only is CloudFlare assisting a Chinese company and censorship system that are involved in the same types of attacks it’s supposed to protect against, but it’s now providing Baidu with a roadmap of how its technology works.