A massive cyber attack, targeted at the messaging service, Telegram, has been linked to China, said app founder, Pavel Durov.
The messaging app, which has over 2 million subscribers, had over an hour of problems in a “powerful” disruption to services on Wednesday.
The cyber attack on the messaging company was said to have been a problem for users in various countries, which Durov explained as part of a Twitter thread.
“We’re currently experiencing a powerful DDoS attack, Telegram users in the Americas and some users from other countries may experience connection issues,” the Twitter thread said.
What is a DDoS?
A Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) happens when multiple systems overpower the bandwidth of a targeted system resulting in the denial of service.
The company explained a DDoS in a humorous way by saying: “A DDoS is a ‘Distributed Denial Of Service attack’: your servers get GADZILLIONS of garbage requests which stop them from processing legitimate requests. Imagine that an army of lemmings just jumped the queue at McDonald’s in front of you – and each is ordering a whopper.
“The server is busy telling the whopper lemmings they came to the wrong place but there are so many of them that the server can’t even see you to try and take your order.”
He added: “To generate these garbage requests, bad guys use ‘botnets’ made up of computers of unsuspecting users which were infected with malware at some point in the past. This makes a DDoS similar to the zombie apocalypse: one of the whopper lemmings just might be your grandpa.
“There’s a bright side: All of these lemmings are there just to overload the servers with extra work – they can’t take away your BigMac and Coke. Your data is safe.”
What is China’s involvement with the attack?
The attack was addressed when reports came from China of a man who worked as a Telegram administrator being arrested for conspiracy to commit public nuisance in Hong Kong.
In order to protest China’s plan to allow extradition to the country, citizens in Hong Kong were using the messaging app to arrange protests.
This suggests Telegram was a target of cyber attacks to prevent the protests from occurring.
Not only does the app allow the user to broadcast to an unlimited audience, but it also can allow up to 200,000 people into one group alone and is free of charge.
The benefit of using Telegram in a situation like this is that it allows users to send encrypted messages and videos, making it perfect to arrange confidential meetings.
Durov has spoken of the Chinese occurrence of the Distributed Denial of Services having a Chinese IP address and in a thread of Twitter posts regarding Wednesday’s attack.
He said: “IP addresses coming mostly from China. Historically all state actor-sized DDos (200-400 Gb/s of junk) we experienced coincided in time with protest in Hong Kong (Coordinated on @Telegram). This case was not an exception.”
72 people have been injured in China in protests so far. The protests are over fears that passing an extradition bill in the country will lead to Hong Kong becoming more under the control of China.
In the UK earlier this week, China also faced a backlash over security issues linked with Huawei. Network providers drafted an email to the government asking for their stance on the Chinese software giant after the US propagated rumours the company were using phones to spy on the west.
The cyber-attack on Telegram was said to have been stabilised soon after it occurred.