A networking error in China briefly crippled Internet access to many local sites in the country, as the nation’s user traffic was strangely redirected to an IP address located in the U.S.
Starting at Tuesday afternoon local time, Internet users in the country began reporting problems accessing China’s top Internet sites. Local security and Internet monitoring groups in the country said the cause was an error with the nation’s generic top level domains improperly redirecting users.
The access problems only lasted for a few hours and it was unclear what brought about the error. Chinese Internet experts noted that traffic had been redirected to IP address 18.104.22.168, which is located in California, and belongs to Sophidea Webhosting.
According to Markosweb, a service that monitors Internet activity, Sophidea has hosted several websites that have been critical of the Chinese government, including The Epoch Times, a publication whose site is blocked in China.
Others hosted include those that provide software to bypass China’s online censors.
Some users in China are speculating the error could have been a hacking attack from the U.S. But others have posted that the Chinese government may have tried to block the IP address, only to accidentally redirect the nation’s top level domains to forward traffic to the IP.