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China hit by its largest ever DDoS attack

China has been hit with its largest ever distributed denial of service [DDoS] attack that lasted for hours and took down large swathes of the country’s Internet.

The China Internet Network Information Center [CINIC] reported that the attack began at 02:00 local time on Sunday with a further more sustained attack at 04:00 meaning it became the largest DDoS attack the country’s networks have ever faced.

“China Internet Network Information Center will work with the sector to work together to continue to enhance the service capabilities,” read a translated message on the CINIC website.“[04:00], the state once again under DNS node biggest ever denial of service attacks, some websites analytical affected, leading to slow or interrupt access.”

The DDoS attack targeted the registry that lets users access sites with the ‘.cn’ extension and shut it down for between two and four hours. CloudFlare, a web performance and security service provider for over a million websites, saw a 32 per cent drop in traffic for thousands of ‘.cn’ sites compared with the same period in the preceding 24 hours.

“That’s likely representative of the overall drop in traffic generally,” CloudFlare chief executive Matthew Prince wrote in an email to the Wall Street Journal.

Prince went on to speculate that, even with China’s extensive filtering system, “a single individual” could have carried out the attack with no one from the government yet confirming who was responsible for the attack.

DDoS attacks slow or crash servers by directing large amounts of traffic towards sites to overload them and cause them to crash. They have been increasingly used by the underground economy as a way to cause disruption and the first half of 2013 saw a marked increase in the size, speed and complexity of attacks.