Over the weekend Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail service was reportedly the victim of a cyber attack in China, likely perpetrated by Chinese authorities themselves.
Local users started to see connection issues when trying to call up Microsoft’s e-mail service, both on the web and via smartphone apps. According to GreatFire.org the attack was likely perpetrated on behalf of China’s Cyberspace Administration.
According to this same report the attackers likely used a “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attack, which can hijack communications, monitor them or block them completely. One supposed reason for using this type of attack is that end-users are likely to be less suspicious and blame simple network errors instead of the authorities.
The attack on Outlook servers and Microsoft came less than a month after Chinese authorities banned Google’s Gmail inside the country. Critics and advocates consider this to be the latest step in the government’s attempts to further isolate the Chinese people from the worldwide internet and instead confine them to the Great Firewall.