Telegram blames China for DDoS attack coinciding with Hong Kong protests

Telegram blames China for DDoS attack coinciding with Hong Kong protests

In this photo illustration the cloud based instant messaging

China may have set out to disrupt Telegram.

Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) that hit Telegram Wednesday came from China, the secure messaging app’s founder said. Pavel Durov’s tweet even suggested that the country’s government may have done it to disrupt the Hong Kong protests.

Attacks like this are the result of a service being bombarded with “garbage requests” from networks of bots hidden, Telegram noted in its explanation.

“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,” Durov wrote in a followup tweet.

Tens of thousands took to Hong Kong’s streets to oppose a government plan that’d allow extraditions to mainland China. People are worried that it would bring the semiautonomous former British colony under the Chinese government’s thumb.

These protesters relied on encrypted messaging services, which let them mask their identities from Chinese authorities, to communicate. Telegram and Firechat are some of the top trending apps in Hong Kong’s Apple store, Bloomberg noted. Some masked their faces to avoid facial recognition systems and didn’t use public transit cards linked to their identities, according to Bloomberg.

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If China was using the DDoS attack to disrupt the demonstrations, it’d be taking a similar approach to Russia, Iran and Indonesia. The governments in those countries blocked Telegram, arguing that it was used for anti-government protests and terrorism.

Telegram didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

First published at 2:49 a.m. PT.
Updated at 4:08 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.


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