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Telegram says ‘powerful’ cyber attack was from China, timed with Hong Kong protests



The encrypted messaging app Telegram experienced a “powerful” distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) on Wednesday, causing interruptions.

Telegram has been one of the primary tools Hong Kong protestors have used to communicate and organise themselves in defiance of a highly-controversial extradition bill, which is behind the country’s worst political crisis in recent memory.

The company said it received “gadzillions of garbage requests” which overwhelmed its servers, and it turns out that most of these originated in China.

Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder and CEO, revealed details of the attack on Thursday and wasn’t subtle about where it came from, explaining the size of these junk requests was consistent with a state actor, and the timing coincided with protests in Hong Kong.

It’s not the first time Telegram has been hit with a suspected DDoS attack originating from China. In 2015, the company experienced an attack just as China was set to crack down on human rights lawyers who were using the service. 

Protestors in Hong Kong took to the streets on Wednesday to rise up against legislation which would allow fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China. 

Telegram pointed the origin of Wednesday's cyberattack to China.

Telegram pointed the origin of Wednesday’s cyberattack to China.

Image: Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImageS

Opponents want the bill to be retracted, and a debate over the legislation has been postponed for a second time on Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported

It’s part of larger concerns about the continued erosion of the “one country, two systems” principle which aimed to protect civil rights in Hong Kong, when the country’s sovereignty was relinquished by the U.K. and transferred to China in 1997.

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