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Hackers blamed for online crash affecting millions

Shanghai Daily, January 23, 2014 Adjust font size:

China yesterday blamed hackers for a massive Internet access glitch that affected users of websites ending with ".com" on Tuesday afternoon.

The problems have been fixed and services are being restored, officials said.

The crash of servers in China, which also affected popular domestic sites such as and QQ Mail, was caused by hacker attacks, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's emergency response team CNCERT said.

The Internet was almost fully restored by 4:50pm on Tuesday, 90 minutes after the crash, CNCERT said.

Qihoo 360, a Beijing-based online security firm, said the crash affected millions of Internet users, the entire dot-com industry and even the country's economy, with tourism, airline, e-commerce, IT services and social networking sites unavailable.

"I couldn't use any Internet services except for instant message service QQ. It drove me crazy," said Zhang Xue, an executive with an overseas trading firm based in Shanghai.

More than two-thirds of domestic DNS (domain name system) servers were out of action on Tuesday afternoon. Though most Internet traffic has been restored, a full restore would need 48 hours after the crash, which began at 3:10pm on Tuesday, Qihoo 360 said.

DNS servers play important roles in transferring Internet addresses to a serial number address computers can recognize.

Chinese users were redirected to inaccessible addresses in North Carolina. That was the reason why users could only see "cannot connect to server" messages on their screens.

The top 13 DNS servers are in the United States, Japan, Holland and Sweden. China needs to build its own top-level DNS server for national security, Qihoo 360 said.

There was speculation in the online community that the crash was an attempt by US hackers to test China's online national security ability and response speed.

Cncert said it was still trying to identify the source of the attack. Previously, Western media reports had blamed Chinese hackers for attacks on US government bureaus, something China denied.


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