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GitHub Slammed by Denial of Service Attack That Some Experts Trace to China

The Chinese government has been stepping up its censorship efforts.


The popular coding website GitHub has been hit by a days-long denial of service attack that some security experts believe may have ties to China.

The San Francisco company, whose site is used as a platform for software developers to share code, reported that it was experiencing outages early Thursday, which it identified as an attack intended to interrupt service. In the days that followed, GitHub reported it has seen intermittent outages as the attack morphed.

Security experts said attackers directed a massive amount of traffic to the site in an attempt to cripple it. Traffic from overseas users of Chinese search site Baidu was directed at GitHub — specifically at two pages that linked to copies of websites banned in China, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Security expert Richard Stiennon, chief analyst for the research firm IT-Harvest, said Web publishers have been turning to GitHub to circumvent censorship.

The Chinese government has been stepping up its censorship efforts, with the government disrupting access to three popular virtual private network providers — Astrill, GoldenFrog and StrongVPN — whose software allows users to breach the Great Firewall.

Stiennon said this denial of service attack could well be the work of the government or of sympathetic hackers.

GitHub alluded to censorship in a blog post in which it discussed what it called “the largest denial of service attack” in its history.

“Based on reports we’ve received, we believe the intent of this attack is to convince us to remove a specific class of content,” the company said in a blog post. GitHub did not give specifics.

A spokesperson declined to comment beyond GitHub’s published remarks.

GitHub said Sunday that it continued to struggle with intermittent outages as the attack continued. The work to limit the disruptions is ongoing, it said.

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