Blog Post

HSBC bank portal reportedly caught up in China’s Great Firewall

The corporate banking portal of HSBC, the world’s second largest bank, has reportedly been blocked in China by the country’s “Great Firewall,” a monolithic censorship tool that’s designed to stop people in China seeing or accessing services with forbidden information.

Sometimes the Great Firewall gets overzealous. On Monday the [company]Verizon[/company]-owned content delivery network (CDN) EdgeCast described in a blog post how the last week has seen many popular websites blocked in China for no apparent reason. That followed a report by anti-censorship activists at GreatFire.org, who said the firewall was blocking a range of sites and services from Firefox add-ons to Gravatar avatars to [company]Sony[/company] Mobile’s websites, the Drupal project website, and The Atlantic’s site – all EdgeCast clients.

“We have been hearing from our CDN and Monitoring partners throughout the industry and our own customers that more sites, CDNs and networks are being filtered or blocked by the Great Firewall of China,” EdgeCast said in that Monday post. Now it appears that a major client of [company]Akamai[/company], one of the other big CDNs, may also have been a victim of the censorship drive in recent weeks.

GreatFire.org reported on Tuesday that [company]HSBC[/company]’s corporate banking customers in China have been having difficulty accessing an Akamai subdomain that HSBC uses to speed up access to its secure HSBCnet portal login.

Someone noted this in late October, though GreatFire.org’s monitoring history for the subdomain suggests the apparent blocking goes back to September.

https://twitter.com/larrysalibra/status/524966724655779840/photo/1

GreatFire.org claims this is the first time financial services have gotten snarled up in the Great Firewall. The organization also suggested that Chinese censors might be trying to block access to GreatFire.org mirror websites that use Akamai’s CDN.

I’ve asked both HSBC and Akamai for comment, and will add it in as and when it arrives.

3 Responses to “HSBC bank portal reportedly caught up in China’s Great Firewall”

  1. As an expert on CDNs and China specifically, I’d like to provide some insight. I am not going to comment on the hot topics of censorship or the great firewall itself. My comments are specifically around the regulations of CDN within China. CDNs are regulated and licensed by the MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) of China. Earlier this year, the MIIT went through a licensing process for CDNs to be selected to operate legally within China. As of today, Akamai and Edgecast are not recognized CDN infrastructure providers within China. In this case, I believe the content providers (HSBC, Sony, Atlantic etc.) are unfortunate victims of a licensing enforcement issue.