Chinese human rights Web sites suffer attacks

The attack brought down the Chinese Human Rights Defenders' site and targeted four others amid a time when China's Web censorship is a hot issue.

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The sites of Chinese Human Rights Defenders and four related groups were targeted by cyberattacks over the weekend, the organization said Monday.

A distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack paralyzed the Chinese Human Rights Defenders site for about 16 hours on Saturday and Sunday, the organization said. Also attacked were Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, Independent Chinese Pen Center, New Century News, and Canyu, the group said.

"Chinese government is the most likely suspect for these attacks," the organization said, though it wasn't able to locate the source and didn't share specific evidence beyond saying such attacks require significant resources. Earlier attacks have rendered its site "inaccessible for days, especially during 'sensitive' periods in China," the group said.

The attack came during a moment when the Chinese government's Net practices are under scrutiny. Google has said it will stop censoring search results in China, even if it means its ejection from the market. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for Net freedoms, and the U.S. State Department is meeting with Chinese officials over the Google matter.

But the Chinese government has begun answering the criticisms more actively.

"Online information which incites subversion of state power, violence, and terrorism or includes pornographic contents are explicitly prohibited in the laws and regulations...China has full justification to deal with these illegal and harmful online contents," said a representative of China's State Council Information Office in a Chinese government summary of an interview with the Xinhua News Agency.

"This has nothing to do with the claims of 'restrictions on Internet freedom,'" the representative said. "Different countries have different conditions and realities, thus they are regulating the Internet in different ways...China's regulation on the Internet industry is proved to be suitable for China's national conditions and in line with common practices in most countries as well."

Chinese Human Rights Defenders also said that it and New Century News are removing malware found on their Web sites that had been put there before the DDOS attack.

The weekend attack flooded the Chinese Human Rights Defenders site with traffic that reached a peak rate of 2GB per second, the organization said.

(Via IDG News Service)