Eyes on China as massive DDoS on GitHub heads into day three

The attack on popular code-hosting site GitHub continues to rattle parts of the service three days after they began.

The latest update from GitHub on Sunday 14:52 UTC was that the ongoing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks — thought to be directed from China — were affecting access to Gist, one of GitHub’s services available to around 9 million developers that use the site.

The attacks began last Thursday, resulting in intermittent outages despite Github’s efforts to defend itself from an “extremely large” attack. The company noted on Friday that reports it had received suggested the unidentified attackers wanted to convince it to “remove a specific class of content”.

US security experts have the Chinese government of being behind the attack and called on it to halt action against a the US company.

Security group Insight Labs on Friday said the attack on GitHub was aimed at making two particular sites that are hosted on GitHub unavailable. The two sites are copies of greatfire.org, github.com/greatefire, and the Chinese-language version of the New York Times, github.com/cn-nytimes.

Notably, the New York Times is blocked in China while GreatFire — a site that monitors web censorship in China — has called out Chinese government organisations on several occasions in recent months, including efforts to intercept traffic from iPhones in China to Apple’s iCloud servers.

GreatFire on Friday drew attention to apparent efforts in China to block a Chinese-language report about China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), a Chinese government agency responsible for China’s .cn domain and certificate authority (CA).

CNNIC was called out by Google last week over a rogue digital certificate issued by Egyptian company MCS Holdings that could be used to impersonate several Google domains.

While MCS had issued the bogus certificates, it was able to because CNNIC had trusted it to do so. Google criticised CNNIC for erring in its responsibilities as a root CA that is trusted by Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple and Google.

According to GreatFire, the Chinese government blocked several Chinese translations of Mozilla and Google’s blogs and called on US companies to stop trusting its certificates

“We once again call for Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple to revoke trust for CNNIC immediately in order to protect user data worldwide,” GreatFire said.

GreatFire has faced numerous DDoS attacks in recent months, which it has speculated were in response to it’s work.

GitHub was briefly blocked in China in 2013, a move that drew criticism from former Google China chief Kai-Fu Lee, who at the time wrote on Weibo: ”Blocking GitHub is unjustifiable, and will only derail the nation's programmers from the world, while bringing about a loss in competitiveness and insight."

Read more: Should Tor fork Chrome instead of playing security catchup on Firefox?

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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Tags GreatFireiCloudChina Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC)Digital CertificateIT Security(DDoS) attacksmozillacode-hostingiPhonesChinese governmentGitHubGoogleMicrosoftddosattackChinaEgypt

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