Telegram Hit By Cyberattack Allegedly Due To Hong Kong Protest

Image: Larich / Shutterstock.com

If you enjoy playing a thrilling match of Quizarium, one of suspension with Werewolf or just about any mini-game together with your friends on messaging app Telegram, this situation would probably be familiar to you.

You’re just one answer away from winning, but suddenly your Telegram crashes and the word “Updating…” flashes across the screen and won’t let you send your message. When it finally loads after minutes, you see that you’ve lost.

GIF: Tenor.com

Damn annoying, right? Why, Telegram, WHY?!

If you were unlucky enough to fall into this situation over the past few days, however, it’s not just because your luck is shit, but because it’s a problem with Telegram’s servers itself.

Major Cyberattack On Telegram

Apparently, Telegram’s suffered from a serious cyber attack, said the company on 12 June, Wednesday.

It was a “powerful” Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which happens when a hacker overwhelms target servers by sending in tons of junk requests. Users in many regions would have experienced connection problems in this time.

For laymen like you and I who don’t really understand how that works, Telegram also kindly took to Twitter to explain it in a simple way using fast food restaurants.

“Imagine that an army of lemmings just jumped the queue at McDonald’s in front of you – and each is ordering a whopper (the Burger King speciality). The server is busy telling the whopper lemmings they came to the wrong place – but there are so many of them that the server can’t even see you try and take your order.” Interesting.

Following that, they also announced that their servers have stabilised later on the same Wednesday.

Who’s Attacking Them?

Telegram suspects that the attack was done from China, and not just because they want to target China like the US has been doing – most of the junk requests actually came from there.

It’s also suspected to be in line with the protests in Hong Kong, where an uproar in the city broke out since Monday with the announcement of the extradition law. With the passing of this law, Hong Kong citizens could get sent to mainland China for trials if they happen to commit a crime.

Suffice to say, it’s extremely controversial for many believe getting exposed to China’s flawed justice system will erode Hong Kong’s judicial independence. They are also afraid that Beijing’s influence on Hong Kong will get stronger as well.

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Protesters have been rallying outside government buildings in Hong Kong’s financial district, attempting to storm the parliament while fighting against the police. They’ve been attacked by rubber bullets and tear gas, yet are still pushing on relentlessly.

Crowd Favourite

As Telegram is an encrypted messaging app that allows users to exchange messages, photos, videos, calls and even create channels of up to 200,000 people, many people prefer using it alongside WhatsApp as well as it gives them more privacy.

Authorities will not be able to access the information they share on these apps, so it’s widely used among human rights activists, jihadists, drug dealers and the like.

Since Hong Kong isn’t within the Great Firewall of China, Telegram isn’t banned there like it is in China. Seriously, just about everything is banned there.

Protesters in Hong Kong have most likely been using Telegram to evade electronic surveillance and coordinate their protest plans.

Coincidence?

“Historically, all state actor-sized DDoS (200-400 Gb/s of junk) we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception,” tweeted Pavel Durov, the CEO of Telegram.

Hmm… isn’t it suspicious how the cyberattack in the form of junk requests all lined up with the Hong Kong protests, with the attack hailing from China, the very country the protesters are against?

According to tech firms and researchers, governments have also devoted significant resources to breach the security features of these apps in recent years.

It would seem very probable, then.

China’s foreign ministry and cyberspace administration did not immediately respond to AFP’s requests for comment either, according to reports.

But for now, Telegram’s back in service, so you can go back to your game.