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Pro-Hong Kong websites struck by largest cyber attack in history

Websites supporting the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong have been hit with what is being described as one of the largest cyber attacks ever recorded.

The two sites, Apple Daily and PopVote, have been covering and vocally supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. The two even carried out spoof elections for a new chief executive in the region.

Cloudflare, the company the two sites employ to protect them from threats, has revealed that both have been under sustained attacks of unprecedented size.

“[The attacks are] larger than any attack we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen some of the biggest attacks the Internet has seen,” Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, told Forbes.

The sites were targeted with DDoS reflection attacks, in which large packets of data are sent from spoof IP addresses. An attacker connects to a target, which sends a challenge the attacker then deflects to another victim. Both targets then end up reflecting their own signals back to each other.

At its peak the amount of data thrown at the two pro-democracy websites reached 500Gbps. According to Prince the sites were seeing 250 million DNS requests per second, level with how much the entire Internet receives in the same time span.

The blame for these attacks has naturally fallen on the Chinese government, considering the scale of the attacks and the nature of the targets.

“It's safe to say the attackers are not sympathetic with the Hong Kong democracy movement,” Prince said. “But I don't think we can necessarily say it's the Chinese government.

“It could very well be an individual, or someone trying to make the Chinese government look bad."