Part of China's Internet Goes Down After the Country's Largest Cyberattack

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 26 2013 5:59 PM

Motive Behind Biggest Cyberattack in Chinese History Still Unknown

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A woman views the Chinese social media website Weibo at a cafe in Beijing

Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The Internet in China may not be the sprawling information free-for-all that it is in the U.S., but at least it exists. Most of the time, that is. Chinese authorities announced that part of the Chinese Internet was shut down over the weekend in the biggest cyberattack the country has ever faced.

The denial-of-service attack, which targeted sites with the extension “.cn,” started at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. Another, more intense, attack was launched at 4 a.m. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the attack likely shut down the registry that allows users to access sites with the extension ‘.cn,’ for 2 to 4 hours.’” CNN reports that the attack also specifically targeted the popular Twitter-like Chinese social media site, Weibo.

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The exact details of the attack are hard to determine because, as ZDNet reports, “the motives, depth, and scope of the attack remains unclear, in part due to the heavy state regulation and censorship policies enacted by the country's ruling party.” This particular cyberattack was directed at China, but as Bloomberg reports, China has become the world leader in cyberattacks. In the final quarter of 2012, 41 percent of such attacks originated in China, three times as many as the year before. The Wall Street Journal also notes that “China has one of the most sophisticated filtering systems in the world and analysts rate highly the government’s ability to carry out cyber attacks.” Defending itself, however, is another matter.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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