WEB: The encrypted messenger application, Telegram has been widely used by protesters in Hong Kong in recent days
Is Beijing trying to cut the communication channels of protesters in Hong Kong? The encrypted messenger Telegram was the victim of a major cyber attack that seems to come from China, said Thursday its co-founder on Twitter, making the link with political unrest on the territory.
The application has been widely used in recent days by protesters in Hong Kong to evade online surveillance and coordinate their actions against a controversial bill to allow extradition to mainland China. The former British colony was shaken Wednesday by the worst political violence since its surrender to China in 1997, the police fired rubber bullets at protesters who blocked the main arteries and tried to enter the parliament.
“Powerful” denial of service attack
Telegram announced on Wednesday night a “powerful” Denial of Service (DDoS) attack-flooding a server with unnecessary queries to overwhelm it and indicating that many users might have connection problems. These requests came mainly from China, according to Telegram’s Russian co-founder Pavel Durov, who made the connection with the situation in Hong Kong.
“Historically, all the DDoS we encountered from a state actor by their size (200-400 Gb / s of useless requests) coincided with events in Hong Kong (organized via @telegram),” a- he said on Twitter. “It was not an exception.”
IP addresses coming mostly from China. Historically, all state actor-sized DDoS (200-400 Gb/s of junk) we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) 12 June 2019
China “not aware”
Telegram subsequently released a series of tweets to explain the nature of the attack.
“Imagine an army of lemmings jumping the queue in front of you at McDonald’s – and each one ordering a whopper,” said the messenger, referring to the flagship product of the competing brand Burger King. “The server is busy explaining to the lemmings that they are in the wrong place but there are so many that the server can not even see you to take an order.”
Asked about this, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday “do not know.” “China has always opposed any form of cyber attack” and “is also the victim of cyber attacks,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for diplomacy, told a news briefing.
Based in Dubai, Telegram messaging, used by more than 200 million users worldwide, offers high privacy for the exchange of text messages, photos and videos and makes encrypted voice calls. Its “channels” also allow a user to broadcast messages to a large number of subscribers.