IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Great Cannon brings down Github and

China's new cyber weapon has been designed to stop its citizens reading articles it doesn't agree with


China is testing its new cyberweapon, taking down Github and to demonstrate how it can be used to attack websites it doesn't want its residents to read.

The, tool which has been called the Great Cannon, targets web servers with enormous amounts of traffic in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. However, researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, the International Computer Science Institute, the University of California-Berkeley and Princeton University said it could be tweaked to distribute malware or infect any computer anywhere in the world that visits a Chinese server.

John Scott-Railton, a researcher at the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto said: "This is a powerful attack capability, and we are curious about the risk and benefit analysis that led the Chinese government to reveal it with this highly visible denial of service attack."

Great Cannon works by targeting traffic between a limited number of web addresses, rather than everything going in and out of China like the Great Firewall does. It then uses web traffic unrelated to the source to build an attack against the source site. So, for example, users of Baidu, one of China's biggest web services could be inadvertently attacking an external website.

Although the way it works is very different to the Great Firewall, the researchers were able to relate it back to China because it's hosted in the same network space, and has the same infrastructure and similar coding as the Great Firewall.

It isn't particularly surprising that was the first website to be taken down by Great Cannon, because it is run by Chinese expats and is used to monitor which websites Chinese citizens are accessing.

Github was reportedly taken down because it is linked to GreatFire, hosting two repositories used by the site to help Chinese citizens to get around the country's firewall to read the New York Times in Chinese.

Featured Resources

Meeting the future of education with confidence

How the switch to digital learning has created an opportunity to meet the needs of every student, always

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Cloud Pak® for Watson AIOps with Instana

Cost savings and business benefits

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

Technology reimagined

Why PCaaS is perfect for modern schools

Free Download

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

7 Jun 2022
Attracting and retaining talent through training

Attracting and retaining talent through training

13 Jun 2022
Delivery firm Yodel disrupted by cyber attack
cyber attacks

Delivery firm Yodel disrupted by cyber attack

21 Jun 2022