Threat Management

U.S.-based Chinese news website targeted by DoS attack

A U.S-based Chinese news website which hosts hundreds of blogs - outlets for repressed political and social commentary in China - is struggling to reconstruct and reactivate the blogs after suffering a DoS bombardment that crashed on Dec. 24.


According to Vincent Brossel, who heads the China desk for Reporters Without Borders, the attack on the Boxun blogs not only wiped out databases of postings but also has forced Boxun editor Wei Shi to find a new service provider to host the outlets.


“They have to find a new host, because the attack was so disruptive their service provider has shut them down,” Brossel, based in Paris, told “They have lost a lot of data, but Wei Shi is trying to save as much as he can. It is exhausting work, and it will take him a week or two to get back up.” 


Wei Shi alerted Reporters Without Borders this week that approximately 2,000 blogs hosted on Boxun were bombarded with “an infinite number” of connection requests, crashing the site on Monday.


Boxun, which according to Brossel has about 1,000 “highly active” blogs which permit people in China to post comments on human rights matters, environmental issues and other social concerns, was subjected to a smaller attack in August that reportedly led to the suspension of up to 10 U.S.-based Chinese dissident sites.


Several reporters based in China who have posted on the Boxun site have been arrested by Chinese authorities in recent months. Boxun also published one of the first reports on Yahoo's alleged cooperation with the Chinese government in the jailing of a prominent dissident, when Wei Shi posted on the Boxun site a plea entered by the dissident's attorney during an appeal.


Brossel said Boxun is one of a number of information sites that are routinely blocked in China by government firewalls, which end-users increasingly are circumventing with proxy servers or “tunnel” software.


Brossel said suspicions of Chinese government involvement in hacking the Boxun blog site are “impossible to prove, because so many proxies can be used,” but he noted that the Chinese government is putting increased pressure on journalists in China in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. 


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