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Chinese authorities say massive DDoS attack took down .cn domain

Middle Kingdom pledges immediate action

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC) has reported that on Sunday it suffered the largest ever DDoS attack it has ever experienced against the .cn domain, an assault that took ten hours to knock down.

In a statement, the CINIC said that attacks began around midnight Sunday on Chinese time and intensified a few hours later. There was another surge in denial traffic at 4am, but this has now abated and almost all .cn sites were clear of issues by 10am on Sunday morning local time, the government agency said.

According to Matthew Prince, CEO of web apps and monitoring firm CloudFlare, sites on the .cn domain saw a 32 per cent degradation in traffic during the attack, which peaked at around 6am UTC.

At first it was thought this was a technical error on the part of the hosting firm, rather than an attack, he told The Register, but the CINIC statement shows that someone out there is flexing their muscles.

"The attackers showed they were capable of knocking the .cn infrastructure offline but that doesn’t mean that they could knock .com infrastructure offline – but it may," he said.

Prince explained that it's difficult to know the full extent of the attack because that depends on what kind of infrastructure China has devoted to the maintenance of its .cn domain. This doesn’t just come down to the number of servers involved, but how they are setup and operated, he said.

"Fundamentally in a denial of service attack there's some bottleneck which that the attacker is able to fill with bad traffic, preventing the good traffic from getting through," he said.

The CINIC has pledged a full review of the incident and said it will be working with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to harden its systems against further assaults, and it apologized to internet users for the issues.

As well as having the largest online population, China also produces more attack code for denial of service attacks than any other county, according to the latest data from Akamai. "I can't help but see irony in all the news reports," Bill Brenner, program manager at Akamai said, although the report did note that China has made significant inroads into cutting dodgy traffic on its networks. ®

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