In one of the more bizarre twists in recent Internet memory, much of the Internet traffic in China was redirected to a mysterious company in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Tuesday.
A large portion of China’s 500 million Internet users were unable to load websites ending in .com, .net or .org for nearly eight hours in most regions of China, according to Compuware, a Detroit-based technology company.
The China Internet Network Information Center, a state-run agency that deals with Internet affairs, said it had traced the problem to the country’s domain name system. And one of China’s biggest antivirus software vendors, Qihoo 360 Technology, said the problems affected roughly three-quarters of the country’s domain name system servers.
Those servers, which act as a switchboard for Internet traffic behind China’s Great Firewall, routed traffic from some of China’s most popular sites, including Baidu and Sina, to a block of Internet addresses registered to Sophidea Incorporated, a mysterious company that — until last year — was housed on a residential street in Cheyenne. and moved to a two-story building last year.
A simple Google search reveals that Sophidea Inc.’s previous headquarters on Thomes Avenue was not a corporate headquarters, but a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn.
That address — which was home to some 2,000 companies on paper — was the subject of a lengthy 2011 Reuters investigation that found that among the entities registered to the address were a shell company controlled by a jailed former Ukraine prime minister; the owner of a company charged with helping online poker operators evade an Internet gambling ban; and one entity that was banned from government contracts after selling counterfeit truck parts to the Pentagon.
Gerald Pitts, the owner of Wyoming Corporate Services, said that he could not disclose any details about Sophidea without “due process.” Mr. Pitts said Wyoming Corporate Services acts as the registered agent for nearly 8,000 businesses. “What they do I’m not 100 percent sure,” Mr. Pitts said.