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Before protests, Hong Kong news sites were hit with the largest DDoS ever

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Pasu Au Yeung / Flickr

While protestors were filling the streets of Hong Kong, there was another kind of gridlock flooding the city's independent media sites. A new report from Forbes says the protests saw the largest denial-of-service attacks on record, reaching up to 500 gigabits per second according to the web optimization network CloudFlare. The attacks started in June, targeting independent news site Apple Daily before moving on to the similar PopVote outlet. Amplifying traffic by triggering IP lookups, the attackers were able to generate traffic significantly larger than the notorious Spamhaus attacks of last year.

The first attacks occurred before the central Chinese government's "white paper" on Hong Kong's elections, which is widely credited with setting off the protests. Still, there's reason to think the sites had provoked the ire of the central government even before the protests began. Both sites had hosted mock elections for Hong Kong's chief executive, which could easily have set off the central government's censors or anyone else hostile to Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement. CloudFlare was able to defend against the attack, but the longterm to the sites remains, particularly as the significant online footprint of the movement continues to spread.