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Chinese human rights website and host threatened by DDoS attacks


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Late this week, a prominent US-based Chinese language site came under a massive DDoS attack, forcing it to move to a new web host. The site, called Boxun.com, covers human rights abuses and political news in China, and is run from North Carolina by expatriate Watson Meng. In recent weeks, it has reported extensively on political scandals involving Chinese politician Bo Xilai.

Friday, its original web host, Name.com issued a statement saying that it had received an e-mail demanding the webhost take down Boxun.com or face a DDoS attack. "Shortly thereafter, our network operations team was made aware of the fact that our main website and nameservers had come under a massive DDoS attack, later to be determined one of the largest ones in the company's history," the company wrote in a post titled 'Free Speech and DDoS Attacks'. "Strong arm tactics such as this hurt the free exchange of ideas that the internet is meant to enable."

Name then reportedly contacted Boxun, saying it could not keep the domain and its 1.5 million other domains online at the same time. According to the BBC "It is not clear who launched the attacks, but the manager of Boxun.com, Watson Meng, was quoted as saying he believed they were ordered by China's security services."

The attack occurred after days of Boxun’s reporting on a scandal involving Bo Xilai, a recently-sacked member of the Communist party whose wife is accused of collusion in the murder of a British consultant and businessman.

During the DDoS attack, Name.com also received a second e-mail saying, "that unless we handed over the domain to the attackers and told the original owner that it was stolen, the attackers would continue the DDoS attack of our website and nameservers. At this point we helped the customer transfer the domain to another registrar as quickly as possible."

Both Name.com and Boxun.com are currently up and running. According to the Associated Press Boxun.com’s traffic has increased 115 percent over the last three months, with the bulk of that traffic coming from China, despite government censorship.

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