Posted on September 3, 2019 at 6:05 PM
It is no secret that Hong Kong is currently undergoing a tough time, with tensions and political unrest taking the primary scene. There are some blogs, online forums, and clandestine sites in which protesters go to let their feelings out, and one of them recently suffered a DDoS attack that forced its servers to go offline for a few hours.
The website that suffered the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is dubbed LIHKG, and it is often referred to as a Hong Kong-based version of the Reddit platform. Protesters, without knowing for sure who perpetrated the attack, have one primary suspect: China.
A Place for Discussion and Planning
The forum is used by an activist in the city to discuss several topics regarding the current political situation. It has been gaining attention recently as these activists used it recurrently to organize protests and actions following the notoriously famous extradition bill of 2019.
LIHKG offered an official statement after the DDoS attack. It said that the offense started targeting the web page on August 31st, 2019, a day in which unique visitors increased to 6.5 million and the total requests went over 1.5 billion per hour.
A distributed denial of service attack can be extremely detrimental for the online experience, as continued and incoming traffic requests sent by several IP addresses have the potential to collapse a site, gaming platform, and in this case, an online forum. To the contrary of simple denial of service (DoS) attack, stopping a DDoS one is significantly harder because putting a halt to one source doesn’t end the offense.
Who Is To Blame?
The website implied that the DDoS attack was perpetrated by a national level power, and it is not difficult to put the pieces together and determine which country the page is referring to. LIHKG says that botnet from all over the planet were manipulated in the launch of the attack.
Of course, there is no way to know for sure who authored the attack or where did it come from, but the primary beneficiary was clearly China. The statement also points out that some of the attacks were from pages in mainland China, which is noteworthy because the current protests that are taking place in Hong Kong have found opposition in the Chinese authorities.
Per the terms of the extradition bill, the government in Hong Kong would be allowed to detain and extradite people that are wanted in those territories in which the country doesn’t have such agreements. Taiwan and China are two examples.
Right now, after the site went back online, LIHKG is implementing protection against DDoS attacks offered by Cloudflare. Yet, according to the statement provided by the platform, the offense hasn’t ended and the service is still susceptible to it.
LIHKG offered a piece of advice to readers interested in using the site: try surfing the web version of the platform, in the eventual case that the app goes down because of another batch of DDoS attacks.
Not the First Time a DDoS Attack Has Been Linked to China
DDoS attacks can be a powerful weapon to momentaneously take down a site or web-based platform, and this is not the first time that China has been accused of performing one to exercise censorship on Hong Kong protesters.
Back in June, social app and privacy-focused instant messaging tool Telegram suffered a DDoS attack, and its service in the United States was interrupted for a brief period of time. Other locations weren’t able to use the service, as well.
Back then, the founder of Telegram Pavel Durov also put the blame on the Chinese government, saying that the IP addressed that sent out the endless traffic requests mostly came from the country and that the peak point of the offense coincided with protests.
At the moment of writing this article, the LIHKG platform was still online, but as the site explained, another attack could occur at any minute, and those who watch freedom of speech in the city and the planet as a whole will be closely watching.