Web performance company, Cloudflare, have said that this week’s attack on Occupy Central was “one of the largest and most persistent DDoS attacks in the history of the internet”. The flood of malicious traffic that hit the HKU-hosted PopVote website on Tuesday is comparable to the notorious ‘spamhaus‘ attack last year which Cloudflare said “nearly broke the internet”.
Today, smaller-scale attacks continued but the site remained mostly online, logging an unprecedented 232,270 votes in the first six hours of a city-wide unofficial referendum on democracy. Permanent Hong Kong residents are being invited to vote for their preferred system for democracy over the coming days, on the internet and in-person at city-wide voting locations.
Referring to the flood of traffic Cloudfare attempted to absorb earlier this week, CEO Matthew Price said that the cyber-attack couldn’t possibly be the work of amateur ‘script kiddies‘. This means it was likely an organised and well-funded effort that, according to Price, involved a new ‘layer 7 HTTPS flood that prioritises a CPU-intensive TLSv1/DES-CBC3-SHA’. Journalists are working hard this evening to understand what in the name of Lufsig this may mean.
Many defenders of cyber-warfare claim that DDoS attacks are the internet equivalent of peaceful occupations. Like a real-life ‘sit-in’, they mobilise thousands of ‘zombie’ computers to flood the the online ‘home’ of a target, such a bank or government website. Thus, ironically, those objecting to the pro-democracy occupation plan have attempted to oppose it using similar, albeit virtual, methodology.
Additionally, the publicity that surrounded their efforts has no doubt motivated more Hong Kongers to vote today in a show of resistance.
Meanwhile, ‘Anonymous HK’ have leapt to the defence of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp by declaring war on the cyber-attackers. In a clip uploaded on Tuesday, they claim to have traced the attack to Hong Kong’s Chinese University and areas of the mainland. The video, published by the unidentified group on YouTube, has received almost 45,000 views this week.
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