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article imageMassive DOS attack hits China, official silence reigns

By Paul Wallis     Aug 27, 2013 in Internet
Sydney - Up to 8 million Chinese websites may have been affected by the “largest ever” denial of service attack on .cn domains. Rumors abound, including one that it was staged to block information about disgraced Party member Bo Xilai’s court case.
Sydney Morning Herald:
According to the China Internet Network Information Centre, the attacks began early on Sunday and came in two major waves. The centre issued a statement condemning the attacks and apologised to users for slow or interrupted access to Chinese websites.
Exactly how long the attacks lasted remains unknown, with numerous news websites reporting varied lengths of disruption.
The South China Morning Post reported the attacks lasted from early Sunday until Monday afternoon, while the Wall Street Journal said they lasted between two and four hours.
The South China Morning Post adds a little more to a very limited range of information from China itself:
Tang Wei , senior network security engineer with Rising, a mainland anti-virus software firm, suspected the attack was launched overseas.
"I doubt any individual or organisation in China has the resources or guts to challenge the government in such a way," he said. "This incident has created a seismic shock for the industry."
Tang said the attacker obviously wanted to damage China's top-level domain, but their motive was anyone's guess.
Liu Qing , an internet security expert in Shanghai, said the attack seemed vengeful and that foreign governments such as the US were unlikely to be behind such an operation. "Government hackers prefer sneaking in the back door, not slamming the front door," he said.
Information, let alone commentary, is in short supply from mainland sources. My search of Xinhua a day after the attack didn’t return any China-based information about the DOS attack at all. While it’s understandable that Chinese security may not wish to provide any information regarding its operations in relation to the attack, the lack of coverage by PRC news media is rather bizarre.
The current online speculations regarding the attack are that a botnet was used to launch a massive surge in requests, slowing the Chinese net. A foreign source could be very hard to pin down. DOS attacks can be launched from millions of computers, and a primary source can be easily faked or fed through an innocent system.
The less obvious but potentially deadly threat is a threat to China’s economy through its internet system. A major attack could be a very expensive proposition for the world’s second largest economy, particularly if the huge Chinese financial sector went down for any significant length of time. This very large scale attack may also have done some unknown damage, which could explain the official silence.
More about china dos attack, Botnet, tang wei, cn domain DOS attack, Liu Qing
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