• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 4:16pm
NewsHong Kong

Cyberattackers brought down Apple Daily website with 40 million hits every second

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 12:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 7:06am

A cyberattack on Apple Daily's website saw more than 40 million enquiries sent to the site per second during its peak, bringing the system down and blocking normal web users from accessing pages for several hours, the company revealed today.

In a front page story the company blamed the attack on Beijing and said its vast scale would have required several thousands computers running in tandem.

The 'denial-of'service' (DDoS) attack is a commonly used tool by cyberattackers who want to bring down websites.

Often they will harness a network of machines under their control to send repeated requests to a site simultaneously, the volume of which far exceeds the capacity the site's servers can cope with. This results in part of the infrastructure failing, which causes the site to become unavailable to regular users.

Lento Yip Yuk-fai, chairman of the Internet Service Providers' Association, told Apple Daily: “An attack of such a scale would require more than 10,000 computers to launch. It was unlikely to have been launched by ordinary hackers.” He said the instigators would have been "world class" hackers. 

Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai Chi-ying laid the blame for Wednesday's attack squarely at Beijing's door.

He said it was evidence that Beijing wanted to silence voices supporting Occupy Central's public vote on options for the chief executive election, to be held from June 20 to 22.

The attack came just days after a website designed to let Hongkongers vote in the poll was brought down by similar tactics.

The popvote.hk website, built by the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University to gauge support for universal suffrage in 2017, received "billions of visits" earlier in the week, sparking fears that the vote would be sabotaged.

Lai said the attack on Apple Daily would not influence the paper's editorial direction, and encouraged Hongkongers to vote in the public poll.

“There is no cause to be afraid. We will carry on with what we have been doing, with multimedia news, instant news…” Lai said.

“Don’t be scared everyone. Come out and vote on June 22.”

Apple Daily has given extensive and supportive coverage to the pro-democracy Occupy Central campaign and the public vote on options for the 2017 election.

All of the options on that ballot allow the public in some form to nominate candidates for the chief executive race, an idea strongly opposed by Beijing.

On Tuesday, the website used to coordinate the public vote was also knocked offline by a cyberattack.

Lai revealed that the Apple Daily website had been under attack for the past few days, before Wednesday’s attack led to a “total collapse”.

The Chinese-language newspaper is known for its independent editorial stance and has often been highly critical of the central government.

Last month a senior Next Media executive told the Sydney Morning Herald that HSBC and Standard Chartered had withdrawn advertising from the newspaper under pressure from pro-Beijing officials.

The banks said the advertising was withdrawn for commercial reasons.

In June last year a car rammed into Lai’s home and an axe and meat cleaver were left outside the front gate.

In the same month masked men burned bundles of the newspaper in two separate incidents in Hung Hom and Central.


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This article is now closed to comments

What a pitiful excuse for a government these Communist Chinese are. And there are HK people who want to hand over the keys to the store to these tyrants. Pathetic.
I don't think Apple Daily - EVER - claimed to be an independent newspaper - I think it's pretty well-established that it's a pro-democracy paper since forever.
hard times !
Of course, there is no cause for Jimmy Lai to be afraid of ! His Next Media: Apple Daily and Next Magazine will continue their independent stance in editorials and won't change even after the hours-long cyber-attack directed by pro-Beijing nasty elements which caused the websites of Next Media in Hong Kong and Taiwan both down for hours since early hours on Wednesday and lasted several hours until around noon on 18th June. There is nothing to be fear excpet fear itself---if one is not scared by dark sides,nothing will have him/her beaten !
Ant Lee
dirty deeds of the communist mainland chinese....can they be anymore disgusting?
He should quit complaining about his garbage IT team. Next you know he'll block up his toilet and blame it on the PRC.
Everyone knows Apple Daily is the single biggest financier ( backed by foreign forces of, of course) behind all these anti - HKSAR / China campaigns over past decades. To be politically correct, this news media including its backers should be rooted off to prevent making HK as the revolutionary base against PRC !
Apple Daily is no independent newspaper as can be seen in the daily propaganda against China. Looks like the owner has an axe to grind since he came to HK.
"Pro-Democracy" used as a pejorative. Now I've seen everything.
I certainly think that's a possibility. But using Ockham's Razor looks for the simplest reason, right? Isn't the simplest reason that it was attacked by a group that disagrees with the newspaper's position. Assuming that the company would target itself to stir up unrest is more convoluted than the DDoS attack being performed by somebody who doesn't like the paper's position, right?
Warning to both SCMP and all HongKonger : Apple daily was. Is and will never be an independent and professional media company! It's single objective is anti China and in particular anti CCP, how can a media company be totally used for this purpose to brainwash most HK people and still complaining that they don!t have the freedom to do whatever they want and SCMP needs to publize it without verfing the fac? I am now based in China and I can read Apple Daily everyday without using VPN and the name just change to ???? All HKers need to wake up to this fact wich can never happen in any countries



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