A massive cyber-attack in China

On Sunday 25th August 2013 China was hit by the “largest ever” cyber-attack on its internet network. As a consequence, all access to .cn websites was blocked for several hours, according to a government-linked agency. In other words, many Chinese websites went temporarily offline. 

Cyber-attack-China

Source (photo): http://www.foxnews.com

According to the “China Internet Network Information Centre” (CNNIC), some important and very frequently visited websites such as Amazon.cn, Weibo and even Bank of China and the like were blocked. In other words, every website with the .cn extension was subjected to a “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attack. More surprisingly, a few hours later, a second DDoS attack affected the resolution of some websites again and all visits became even slower or were interrupted. DDoS attacks, in which a target is flooded with traffic in an attempt to make it unreachable, are relatively common. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to trace the origin of DDoS attacks and there is no indication of who might have been responsible for these attacks in China. Nevertheless, considering current events in China, these attacks may potentially be an act of protest against national censorship. Recently the news in China has been dominated by the trial of the disgraced politician Bo Xilai. Therefore, this could be a motive for some people amidst a crackdown on social media.

Despite this, Washington has consistently condemned cyber-attacks coming from China and aimed at some American governmental organisation websites. In March 2013, President Barack Obama directly blamed the Chinese authorities for these actions.
Beijing, however, defended itself on the grounds that China itself was also a victim of cyber-attacks, and the Chinese foreign ministry described the accusation as “groundless”. Further to these cyber-attacks, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) revealed the introduction of a special plan to increase and improve the protection of national internet service in China, that is to say to improve future service capabilities.

The event was particularly ironic considering that China is responsible for major attacks on Western countries, mostly the United States. Moreover, according to Akamai’s ‘State of the Internet’ report in 2013, 34 per cent of global attacks came from China; in third place we find the US with 8.3 per cent of all attacks.

In a nutshell, because of deep-rooted censorship within the Chinese government, there is no likelihood that we will find out the truth about what happened in this latest attack. Regardless, it is crystal-clear that even though there is no silver bullet, it is paramount to find ways to prevent cyber invasions and to provide lasting security for all digital systems.

 

 

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