Baidu.com sues U.S. domain registrar over hacking

The leading Chinese search engine blames the U.S.-based Internet domain registry for allowing a hack that left the site disabled and defaced.

Updated January 20 at 1:15 p.m. PST with comment from Register.com.

Leading Chinese search engine Baidu.com has filed a lawsuit that blames a U.S.-based Internet domain registrar for allegedly allowing a hacking attack that left the site disabled and defaced.

Baidu filed suit in New York against Register.com, claiming that the domain registrar's "gross negligence" led to the search giant being "unlawfully and maliciously altered," the company said in a statement Tuesday. Baidu's site was disabled for several hours on January 12, and visitors were redirected to a site where a group calling itself the "Iranian Cyber Army" claimed responsibility for the attack. The same group had taken credit for a similar attack on Twitter last month .

Baidu said that its Chinese site--Baidu.com.cn--was unaffected by the outage. Baidu controls about 62.2 percent of the Chinese search market, compared with Google's 14.1 percent, according to ComScore numbers for November.

The domain registrar rejected the suit, classifying it as "completely without merit."

"Register.com takes cyber-terrorism very seriously and we are working closely with federal law enforcement officials who are investigating this crime as well as the recent similar attacks on Twitter and Google," Register.com spokesperson Alice McGillion said.

The move comes during a time of heightened tension in the Chinese search market. Last week, Google disclosed that it and other U.S. companies had been targeted by cyberattacks that originated in China and that it may withdraw from doing business in China as a result. The Chinese government responded to the charges by reiterating that companies doing business in that country must respect and adhere to its laws.

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