• Sat
  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:05pm
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

You know, if jimmy ended up dismembered, I'd say it was self inflicted....
do not believe the democracy lie.
OldPeak Toad
So far I thought this 'public vote' was rather an affair for the nerds. Now that this seems to be making a real impression on some people I will definitely cast my vote!
Ant Lee
if all you 50 cents think your low class comments will have any effect on the views of the vast majority of (real) HK people, you should hit your heads against a brick wall.
Glad that SCMP could hold a fair attitude to report this news. That is worth support!
It is not good to let the things happened like that. We are just an ordinary people.
The Apple Daily and other opposition parties in Hong Kong are launching a war against the regime in Beijing, but are shedding their tears of sadness when Beijing launches the similar attacks. Be bold folks if you are waging war against Beijing rulers, if you are simply constructing a drama for Hong Kong people only so that you could benefit monetarily, politically and socially, you should stop blaming Beijing or antagonizing Beijing. Stupid heads.
A lot of these protesters seem to be very naive and egotistical, its like watching some feather-weight boxer insult a heavy weight champion and wants to pick a fight with him. Stupid.
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
Arwwww....is this the best the mainlanders could do ? Being knocked out of business half a day and they call it hacking? That is a 6th tier hacking skills at best. It's like bragging they succeeded landing on the moon whereas the US are sending feeds back from Mars.




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