During the protests in Hong Kong in recent days, it came at the same time again and again to extensive DDoS attacks on the messenger service Telegram. Telegram boss Pavel Durov not only considers this a coincidence, but sees China behind the attacks, which wanted to disturb the protests.
Pavel Durov commented on telegram failures on Twitter and where the massive DDoS attacks, which made the service obsolete by mass concurrent requests in some regions, came from. Durov speaks of inquiries to an extent of “200-400 Gb / s of junk“, The normal messages of the users did not get through to the servers anymore.
IP addresses from China, assignment difficult
Most of the IP addresses used came from China. A clear assignment of the attackers is not possible on the basis of the IP addresses, since attackers mostly use compromised computers of unsuspecting users for their attacks. Initiator and attacking computers therefore do not necessarily have to come from the same country. It is striking, however, that all recent DDoS attacks that would have taken place coincided with protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong, Durov said. The recent case was no exception. China has rejected participation in the attacks on Telegram against the New York Times.
IP addresses coming mostly from China. Historically, all state-sized DDoS (200-400 Gb / s of junk) we coincide in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception.
– Pavel Durov (@durov) June 12, 2019
Not only Hong Kong affected by attacks
After Telegram had already occasionally struggled with accessibility problems on Tuesday, the service on Wednesday completely collapsed due to massive DDoS attacks for about two hours. In addition to Hong Kong, the US, Brazil and parts of Europe were affected by the problems.
User data secure, but group chat unencrypted
Even though the servers could no longer service regular requests due to the large data streams, Telegram once again made it clear that users' data was still secure and not in danger. Messages between two users are also protected from third-party access by end-to-end encryption. However, for group chats that are often used during such protests, this end-to-end encryption does not apply, so these chats are not eavesdropping-proof. For this reason, experts warn protesters in Hong Kong, always feel safe from the Chinese government when using Telegram.
Law on deliveries to China triggers protests
The protests in Hong Kong have recently demonstrated hundreds of thousands against a planned law designed to allow people to leave Hong Kong for China. Critics suggest that China will use the new law to prosecute political opponents in Hong Kong who are safe from access by the Chinese authorities. A vote on the law was initially postponed after the protests.