On Wednesday, June 12, the encrypted messaging service Telegram was targeted by a massive attack that made the service unavailable. According to it’s General Director Parel Durov, China is at the origin of this attack.
Encrypted messaging to protect against mass surveillance
Founded in 2013 by two brothers opposed to Vladimir Putin’s regime, Telegram is a private communication service that allows messages to be exchanged and calls to be made in an encrypted manner so that no third party can know the content of the exchanges.
The application also allows you to create groups and chains on which you can exchange information. A tool that bothers some and has been blocked by Russia and China since 2018. However, a very small portion of the territory remains outside the large firewall set up by the Chinese authorities: Hong Kong State.
A protest movement in Hong Kong coordinated on Telegram.
Since June 9, a protest movement has developed in the former British colony. The reason for the clashes between civilians and law enforcement: a bill to allow the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China. Faced with the regime, the inhabitants use bypass services, including Telegram, to communicate and organize themselves without Chinese surveillance.
A targeted and massive attack to disable encrypted messaging features
On Wednesday, June 12, hackers carried out a denial of service attack: a technique consisting of massively soliciting the Telegram messaging service using false requests to overload it (200 to 400 gigabits of unwanted data sent every second).
The origin of the attacking traffic coming from China, Telegram quickly made the link with the protest movements taking place in Hong Kong, as General Manager Parel Durov points out: “Historically, all denial of service attacks that we may have suffered nationwide have always coincided with periods of protest in Hong Kong, and these were coordinated through Telegram”. Although unavailable in some areas, the service has finally become gradually available again.