Access Blocked

A US State Department report notes how the revolutions of the Middle East have been aided by the Internet, but points to another trend occurring simultaneously: governments fighting the power of the Internet.

The department’s annual human rights report says governments around the world are “spending more time, money and attention in efforts to curtail access to these new communications outlets.”

It says more than 40 governments are blocking their citizens’ access to the Internet through regulatory restrictions and technologies “designed to repress speech and infringe on the personal privacy of those who use these rapidly evolving technologies.”

The report released Friday singles out countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Vietnam and China as egregious examples.


Via AP

2011 Here Goes…

We knew this was coming…

When Cataclysm sold-through a record 4.7 million copies during its first month alone, we knew Warcraft will only get bigger and bigger.  As a brand, we predicted declared early last year, World of Warcraft have proven itself as competitive and irresistible.

Cataclysm is now “the fastest-selling PC game of all time.” (Contrast that with Warcraft’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, which sold a then-record 2.8 million copies during its initial 24 hours.) But, of course, for the zealous gamer– it’s still the game.

And that’s probably the reason why we at Agency News loves reporting every bit about Warcraft.

Last year, these posts were Agency News ‘attraction’ of 2010

(Or at least what an automated mail told me about the site…)

The posts and pages that got the most views last year were…

Although if I have to list our own top 5 reports, for our first 12 months of blog-ging, the list might include these 3 gems:

China’s approval of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King– Weren’t we glad when the Chinese decided these two expansions could come to their shores after all 🙂 The news read interesting but who would have thought that an MMO could generate such a tantalizing story over there.

Mr T Parade, Draenor– NAH!, it’s not the Sydney G&L Mardi Gras folks but the Mr T Parade on our server. Revelers were yelling WTH! when hundreds of dancing Mr Ts stunned unwitting players in Stormwind Trade District.

And then there was Icecrown Trailer by Vodka– who can ever forget that trailer that was decisively more memorable, more unforgettable than Blizzard’s own. Simply shows ‘love’ by fans of the game.

Here goes 2011 and we promise to keep providing the best Warcraft, MMORPG, net technology news on-line  :)

To all readers of Agency News… Many thanks for supporting us!

Youku’s IPO

Youku's IPO Reminiscent Of Baidu's '05 US Debut Inc., the largest online video site in China, will invest in content and technology to expand market share, Chief Executive Officer Victor Koo said.

“There is still continuing consumer growth and we feel that we need to invest in content and technology to extend our market share,” Koo said. “By investing in content and technology, as penetration increases, we will be able to grow our market share like we have done last year.”

Youku climbed 28 percent to $42.70 yesterday in New York trading after surging 161 percent on its debut the previous day. It was the biggest gain for a U.S. initial public offering since 2005, when Beijing-based Baidu Inc., owner of China’s most-used Internet search engine, began trading.

Youku leads China’s online video market that has grown at a compound annual rate of 74 percent in the past three years and is set to more than double over the next two, according to Shanghai-based iResearch.

Via Bloomberg

Did The Chinese Hijacked The Net In April

….. Well, unlikely.

The latest in a long (and recent) stream of “The Chinese are coming!” scare stories was initiated on Wednesday by McAfee. The fuse that McAfee lit was the 2010 Report to Congress of the US-China Economic and Security Commission.

Page 243 of the report (see page 251 of the PDF) includes a reference to an event from this past April, in which a routing error by a small Chinese ISP named IDC China was propagated by China’s state-owned China Telecommunications. As a result, tens of thousands of networks around the world, thousands of them in the US, were redirected to IDC China Telecommunication. Major providers were affected, including AT&T, Level3, Deutsche Telekom, Qwest Communications and Telefonica.

You may be reading about this for the first time, but it’s not news. In fact, the Commission cited as their source a contemporaneous New York Times reprint of an IDC story on the incident. Why didn’t the Homeland Security Alert Level go to Double-Secret Red at the time? Because stuff like this happens and the problem was fixed in 18 minutes.

But the report uses some unfortunate language:

    For a brief period in April 2010, a state-owned Chinese telecommunications firm “hijacked” massive volumes of Internet traffic.

(It was denied by the Chinese Gov)

Security firms always being happy to overstate a threat, McAfee pushed a hysterical analysis of it to the press which played up every theoretical possibility, however remote. The result was a series of hysterical articles like this one.

Did any of them discuss all the difficult work involved in getting the proposed attacks to work correctly? The notion, and it’s true, is that if you route someone away from their network you can spoof IP addresses with impunity, making it very difficult to detect. So let’s assume someone hijacks the network for and suddenly appears to be them. First, if the traffic is encrypted it will be difficult, if at all possible, to do anything. Second, both the source IP address and source TCP port must be spoofed. Third, the TCP sequence numbers will have to match. The TTL will also have to match. In other words, you’d need to know a great deal about the internals of the network and the systems that run on it before you commenced the attack. What will probably happen is what happened in the April 2010 case: Large numbers of network connections broke, people noticed immediately, and the issue was fixed promptly.

Via PC, for more click here

Google v China…. v WikiLeaks?! (Part II)

Alan Eustace: China is the “heart” of the Internet’s future, where Google can expand services such as maps and display advertising even without a search page.

The Leaked Cable

The WikiLeaks release last weekend of secret diplomatic cables from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing adds a new complication to the already challenging U.S.-China relationship. Just as the Obama administration is trying to persuade the Chinese to take a firmer line with the North Korean regime, it has to deal with a report that a Chinese government source told the U.S. Embassy earlier this year a December 2009 cyberattack against Google operations in China was carried out on government orders.

Google reported in January 2010 that its computer infrastructure in China had been hit by a “highly sophisticated” attack that resulted in the theft of company secrets. Google also said it had evidence that a goal of the attackers was to gain access to the Gmail accounts of Chinese human-rights activists.

At the time, the company did not blame the Chinese government for the intrusion. But shortly thereafter, a U.S. diplomat in Beijing confidentially cabled Washington that “a well placed contact” was claiming the Google attack had been “coordinated” by the Chinese government “at the Politburo Standing Committee level.”

It was a serious charge. The Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo is made up of a handful of top party leaders.

“Those people do not act individually,” says Larry Wortzel, a former intelligence analyst and U.S. military attache in Beijing. “They only act [on an issue] after discussing it in concert and coming to a unified decision.”

The diplomatic cable from Beijing quoted just a single source, and it was not corroborated. Senior U.S. officials who follow China closely say they cannot be certain the Google attack was the work of the Chinese government.

But China experts say the report rings true. The cable only quoted the Chinese source as saying the government “coordinated” the Google attack, a point highlighted by James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The Chinese use private citizens for intelligence activities,” Lewis says. “So instead of having a government agent engage in the activity, they’ll have a private citizen — a hacker, a scholar, or a researcher.”

In fact, few experts who follow Chinese cyber-activities are surprised by the news of a secret cable pointing to a Chinese government hand in the Google attack. Wortzel, a longtime expert on Chinese cyber-espionage, told a congressional committee in March 2010 that he suspected the Google attack was a government operation.


No ‘First-Hand Knowledge’

A Google Inc. (GOOG) executive said Tuesday that the company has no firsthand knowledge of information in the cables gathered by the WikiLeaks website that allege the Chinese government had directed the hacking against Google, which caused the Internet company to move its search services out of mainland China earlier this year.

Alan Eustace, a Google senior vice president of engineering, declined to comment further at a Google forum in Beijing.

Via WSJ Online

China Is In The Heart

Google Inc., which threatened to pull out of China in a dispute over censorship, said its revenue in the country is growing as demand for display advertising and export marketing helps add customers.

“The last 12 months have convinced us about the revenue opportunities the Chinese market holds for us,” Daniel Alegre, the company’s vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, said in an interview today in Beijing. “Display advertising is a large opportunity.”

China is the “heart” of the Internet’s future, where Google can expand services such as maps and display advertising even without a search page, Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research, said separately today. Google this year fell further behind Baidu Inc. in China after diverting search users to a site in Hong Kong to avoid content rules in the world’s biggest Internet market.

“Not only are we in China, but we are investing heavily in China,” Alegre said. It is a market “we want to remain in.”

Via Bloomberg

‘Symbol of the Internet’

A Chinese government-backed internet association has praised Google Inc.

The latest report has come as pleasing news to the search engine giant, as it has not received any positive feedback from the country since it stepped away from mainland China to Hong Kong, over the censorship issues and the hacking threats.

Hu Qiheng, president of the Internet Society of China, which is overseen by China’s information technology ministry, said that Google has become a “symbol of the Internet” and a “carrier of the Internet’s spirit and culture”. He added that “Google’s most charming aspect is its unstopping innovation. It has walked a road of extremely imaginative invention and creation.”

Via Stocks and Shares

Blizzard Roadmap Leaked, China GM “Let Go”

Big changes at Blizzard this weekend. The MMO world was shaken up when leaked confidential files from Blizzard leaked the net. They shared Blizzard’s internal information including their global subscriber database, their product roadmap for upcoming games, financial revenue records, plus information relating to TV media marketing budgets. Blizzard rose to prominence as the developer of the Starcraft and Warcraft series of  PC games, and has been financially well off these past few years with the WoW MMO, which claims 11 million regular users.

The leak is being called one of the biggest leaks in the history of video games (definitely right up there with the 2003 leak of the Half-Life 2 source code from Valve’s servers). reports that Blizzard’s American headquarters in Irvine, California “went berserk” when the product roadmap was leaked.

Speculation seems to be that the leak is in Blizzard China. Ye Weilun, General Manager of Blizzard China was let go today, with no reason provided. His successor is Dai Jinhe, a former manager at Nokia China.

An Accidental Blizzard? WoW Developer Shaken To Its Core By China Leak, General Manager Fired

It’s being reported that Blizzard chief operating officer, Paul Sams, will arrive in Blizzard China next week. Although Blizzard isn’t saying that the GM change and the Sams trip are related to the leak, it certainly looks like Sams is going int to drop the hammer on somebody.

The alleged leaked Blizzard roadmap says that the next Starcraft 2 game, dubbed Starcraft 2: Phoenix in the roadmap, is schedule for a Q4 2011 release – the same time as the Diablo 3 schedule release. The next World of Warcraft expansion is shown to be scheduled for Q2 2012, and the “World of Warcraft movie” is scheduled for Q4 2012. An unknown project, codenamed “Titan”, is scheduled for a Q4 2013 release.
Via TFTS site

Google v China…. v WikiLeaks?!

Did China's politburo directed the Google hack?

China’s politburo directed hacks against Google and the US government, according to an informant quoted in US diplomatic cables.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that it, via whistleblower site Wikileaks, had seen US Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) cables containing information pointing to Chinese involvement in hacks against companies, including Google, and US government infrastructure.

According to the newspaper, in January, a Chinese contact told the US embassy in Beijing that the politburo — the governing body of the Communist Party of China — had orchestrated a hacking campaign against Google and other Western businesses.

In January of this year Google reported that its IT systems had faced a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” from China.

On 25 January the Chinese government issued a statement denying the allegations of being party to the intrusion. Any claim “that the Chinese government participated in [any] cyberattack, either in an explicit or inexplit way, is groundless”, the statement said.

Via ZDNet


The U.S. believes the Chinese government was behind an internet hacking attack on Google and Western governments. Beijing has adamantly denied any knowledge of the internet interference.

But secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks quote an official from the American Embassy in Beijing as saying that a contact blamed the Chinese authorities.

Google announced in March that it would no longer follow the communist government’s instructions to filter searches for sensitive material after what it said were coordinated cyber attacks.The hacking included infiltration of the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents.

Hacking campaigns originating from China have been reported before, including in a recent study by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

In one 18-minute period last April, the traffic from up to 50,000 computer networks around the world was allegedly redirected through China before being rerouted to its final destination.

But U.S. officials have stopped short of publicly accusing Beijing of cyber warfare, saying that the hacking could be the work of Chinese not linked to authorities.

Via Daily Mail (UK)