Cyber attacks are becoming one of the largest threats, especially when companies who solely depend on their online business are targeted. Just weeks ago attackers tried to extort money from Feedly and Evernote while keeping the services offline, along with shutting down a hosting service and destroying all their data including backups.
Recently, one of the second largest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on the Internet struck an online Hong Kong democracy poll promotion website, in regards to the upcoming Hong Kong elections.
The service that fell victim to hackers was popular, PopVote, and online mock election operated by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program. Saturday the website had received over half a million votes in just shy of 30 hours in the unofficial polling that is scheduled to continue until June 29.
As the polls are unofficial the Chief Executive is officially chosen by a 1,200 member election committee under the current political system.
During the first day of voting, China’s State Council criticized the voting calling it “illegal and invalid”. Hong Kong’s chief execute, Leung Chun-ying, stated all the proposals on the ballot are not complied with Hong Kong’s basic law, which is the terriroty’s de facto constitution.
Friday, the CEO and co-founder of CloudFlare, Matthew Prince, the web performance company who also thwarts attacks, was helping maintain the voting website, and said that the DDoS attack on the voting platform was “one of the largest and most persistent” attacks to date.
According to Prince, the attackers appearing to be using a botnet like attack, or a network of comprised computers around the world that are abused to overwhelm and shut off the server. Botnet’s are often a network of unknowingly comprised machines that are abused to carry out illegal activities.
During the attack on Popvote, Prince wrote on Twitter, “Battling 300Gbps+ attack right now,” occurring during the first day of voting. Three hundred gigabits of data per second is an absurd amount of data bound to take down almost any server. A DDoS attack last year on Spamhaus, a non-profit spam fighting organization was at one time one of the longest and largest attacks in history, CloudFlare noted the attack “almost broke the Internet.”
Months later, the largest ever 400Gbs DDoS attack hit CloudFlare itself. To date, that remains the largest DDoS attack, but did not take down CloudFlare.