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Hong Kong web host jailed for DDoS stunt

Attempt to market anti-DDoS kit with DDoS attack on Stock Exchange backfires

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A Hong Kong IT business owner has been banged up for nine months after launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on a Hong Kong Stock Exchange web site in a botched attempt to market his firm’s anti-DDoS service.

Tse Man-lai, the 28-year-old owner of local web hoster Pacswitch Globe Telecom, was found guilty of launching the attacks on the HKExnews site on August 12 and 13 last year, according to South China Morning Post.

The site is the stock exchange’s official platform for company announcements and so a high profile target for those looking to disrupt the Special Administrative Region’s financial stability.

Tse’s attacks followed two arguably more serious DDoS blasts from outside the region on August 10 and 11, which forced the exchange to shut down the site and suspend trading in seven firms including HSBC and Cathay Pacific.

Tse was apparently trying to prove that HKExnews was still vulnerable to DDoS, and his attacks only lasted 390 seconds and 70 seconds, respectively.

He followed them up with a web forum post entitled “Ernest Networking teaching”, where he criticised the HKSE’s web infrastructure and tried to promote his firm’s own DDoS mitigation service.

Former Hong Kong legislative council member for the IT Functional Constituency, Samson Tam, even wrote to defend the Pacswitch owner, apparently arguing that his actions had “advanced” IT in Hong Kong.

Judge Kim Longley apparently didn’t agree, however, as the misguided marketing stunt earned the Tin Shui Wai resident the best part of a year in the slammer.

DDoS attacks are still a popular tool for blackmailers and hacktivists in Hong Kong.

Six cyber extortionists were arrested in July on the mainland after targeting 16 Hong Kong-based firms including the Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange with classic DDoS-related blackmail.

In August an alleged Anonymous member was cuffed in Hong Kong after threatening to disrupt local government sites, while an overwhelming surge of data traffic was thought to have deliberately sabotaged the Miss Hong Kong competition. ®

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