For eight hours on Tuesday, about 75 percent of Internet traffic in China was redirected to a secretive company in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the New York Times reported.
About 500 million Internet users in China reported being unable to access websites using the .com prefix during the strange outage; instead, they were taken to Internet addresses used by Sophidea, Inc. A separate rash of traffic was re-sent to sites registered by Dynamic Internet Technology, a company that specializes in helping Internet users avoid Chinese firewalls.
A 2011 investigation by Reuters determined that Sophidia's former address was also used by around 2,000 shell companies, including one that incurred a federal indictment for processing payments for gambling sites, as well as pharmaceutical websites selling illegal substances. Sophidea's agent, Wyoming Corporate Services, has since moved into a new building.
Wyoming Corporate Services' owner, Gerald Pitts, told the Times that his company acted as the agent for around 8,000 companies, but that he was "not 100 percent sure" what they did. He also said he would not discuss Sophidia's business without "due process."
The Times reported that one theory about Tuesday's incident holds that attempts by Chinese Internet censors to block Sophidia sites instead funnelled users to them.
[Image: "Young Chinese Woman At Home Using A Digital Tablet" via Shutterstock]