WordPress DDoS Attacks Traced to China

Monday, March 07, 2011

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A series of powerful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against website host WordPress have been traced predominantly to China, according to a report from TechCrunch.

The attacks, which caused serious disruption to the WordPress platform, were conducted over several days last week, and are said to be the most powerful ever sustained by the network.

The attacks registered at several gigabits and tens-of-millions of packets per second.

“WordPress.com was hit with a another wave of attacks [Friday] (the fourth in two days) that caused issues again. This time we were able to recover more quickly, and also determined one of the targets to be a Chinese-language site which appears to be also blocked on Baidu. The vast majority of the attacks were coming from China (98%) with a little bit of Japan and Korea mixed in," says Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg.

Speculation about the origin of the attacks largely centered around political upheavals in the Middle East at first.

With the brunt of the attacks being directed at a banned Chinese-language website and originating in China, speculation shifted to the Chinese government's efforts to control dissident messaging.

“Right now there are huge asymmetric risks on the internet because any bad actor, for a few tens of thousands of dollars, has the online equivalent of a dirty nuke and can bring even the largest sites to their knees and silence millions of voices," said Mullenweg.

In an update to the TechCrunch article, Mullenweg stated that further analysis of the attacks makes it appear less likely that the attacks were politically motivated after all.

“It doesn’t look like attacks were politically motivated, likely more business-oriented given the targeted site, though we still haven’t heard back from the owner," Mullenweg stated.

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