Telegram Messenger hit by DDOS Attack

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Telegram faced a severe distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack today; although it appeared to have stabilised after beginning around midday GMT. The major cyber-attack appeared to originate from China, the company’s CEO said Thursday, linking it to the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong.

Many protesters in the city have used Telegram to evade electronic surveillance and coordinate their demonstrations against a controversial Beijing-backed plan that would allow extraditions from the semi-autonomous territory to the mainland.

Demonstrations descended into violence Wednesday as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who tried to storm the city’s parliament – the worst political crisis Hong Kong has seen since its 1997 handover from Britain to China.

The Russia-founded, British Virgin Isles-registered company took to Twitter to reassure customers that their data was safe. Nobody appears to have claimed responsibility for the attack publicly yet – which lasted several hours.

We’re currently experiencing a powerful DDoS attack, Telegram users in the Americas and some users from other countries may experience connection issues.

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.

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.

A DDoS attack relies on multiple compromised computer systems to attack a target, such as a server or website to disrupt service or serve as a mask to hide more targeted intrusions into an organisation’s infrastructure.

Hong Kong is not behind China’s Great Firewall, which heavily restricts internet access in the mainland – where Telegram is blocked.

China’s foreign ministry and cyberspace administration did not immediately respond to  requests for comment.

Telegram allows users to exchange encrypted text messages, photos and videos, and also create “channels” for as many as 200,000 people. It also supports encrypted voice calls. It announced last year that it had crossed 200 million monthly active users.

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