Telegram, one of the most popular encrypted messaging app, briefly went offline yesterday for hundreds of thousands of users worldwide after a powerful distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack hit its servers. Telegram founder Pavel Durov later revealed that the attack was mainly coming from the IP addresses located in China, suggesting the Chinese government could be behind it to sabotage Hong Kong protesters. Since last week, millions of people in Hong Kong are fighting their political leaders over the proposed amendments to an extradition law that would allow a person arrested in Hong Kong to face trial elsewhere, including in mainland China. Many people see it as a fundamental threat to the territory’s civic freedoms and the rule of law. Many people in Hong Kong are currently using Telegram’s encrypted messaging service to communicate without being spied on, organize the protest, and alert each other about activities on the ground. According to Telegram, the company received “GADZILLIONS of garbage requests” which stop its servers from processing legitimate requests, and the ‘state-actor sized’ attack has been traced back to IP addresses in China. “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,” Telegram founder Pavel Durov tweeted. Though it is evident that a DDoS attack doesn’t have anything to do with the security of data stored on the targeted servers; instead, aims to take a service offline, the company still assured the user data is safe. However, it’s not the first time when the Telegram service was taken forcefully down using a DDoS attack during the political unrest to disrupt activists.
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