The Chinese government is doubling-down on achieving complete control over the content its citizens are allowed to view on the Internet. By February 2018, all VPNs will be blocked, and the so-called Great Firewall continues to be improved.
But the government isn't happy simply knowing controls are in place. It wants to ensure they are by testing them with all the Internet Service Providers that serve China. According to Reuters, yesterday ISPs were involved in a three-hour drill which saw them practice taking down a website deemed to contain harmful content.
The so-called "emergency response" was carried out under the supervision of China's Ministry of Public Security. An explanation for the drill was given in a document created by a cyber police unit in Guangzhou, which said the drill is, "in order to step up online security for the 19th Party Congress and tackle the problem of smaller websites illegally disseminating harmful information."
An undisclosed number of data centers located in China were tasked with shutting down specific websites and then sharing details including IP address, server location, and contact details with police. The time required to take the website offline was also logged.
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The drill was carried out live, meaning service providers including 21Vianet Group and VeryCloud had to issue warnings to its customers about possible disruptions. Reuters also confirmed Microsoft's cloud service in China took part.
As you'd expect, nobody is sharing specific details about the drill or the outcome for each service provider. However, you can guarantee any company and location that didn't hit the Ministry of Public Security's targets will be feeling the pressure today to improve.