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Photo: PhotoTalk/Getty

Google apps' web traffic was mysteriously routed through Russia and China on Monday.

Why it matters: Some security experts believe this may have been an attack on one of the internet's core networking protocols.

Yes, but: It could also have been caused by something as simple as a typo in Russia or China. The internet is fragile.

What is clear is that on Monday, something was horribly amiss in the border gateway protocol (BGP).

  • Not all internet and web service providers can talk to each other, and BGP lets various networks coordinate the quickest path from point A to point B.
  • On Monday, through some accident or intentional attack, the internet began to believe that the fastest way to Google was through a server in Russia and a server in China regardless of where the traffic originated from. The China server ceased all the traffic sent its way, making Google Cloud briefly appear to be out.

What is not clear is whether this was an intentional attack. Given the countries involved, it's very possible it was, although due to the way internet traffic is encrypted, China would have needed to let the internet traffic through to Google to do full-throttle surveillance.

  • BGP routing errors can and frequently are caused by simple mistakes. This could be a mistake. It's impossible to definitively say.

Go deeper

56 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.