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China deployed "Great Cannon" to take down Hong Kong pro-democracy website LIHKG

PRC and Hong Kong flags (photo by Alan Mak via Wikimedia Commons)


China has deployed the so-called "Great Cannon" tool to launch a malware attack aimed at taking offline Hong Kong's popular pro-democracy website LIHKG, according to a report published by AT&T Cybersecurity.

The Great Cannon is a "distributed denial of service tool (“DDoS”) that operates by injecting malicious Javascript into pages served from behind the Great Firewall", the report states.

"These scripts, potentially served to millions of users across the internet, hijack the users’ connections to make multiple requests against the targeted site. These requests consume all the resources of the targeted site, making it unavailable," the report adds.

LIHKG is an online forum launched in November 2016. During the anti-extradition bill protests it became popular among Hong Kong activists, which used it as a platform to discuss politics and organize protests.

On August 31, 2019, the Great Cannon initiated an attack against LIHKG. More attacks were launched in September. The latest series of attacks appear to have started on 25 November.

The report states that the attack is unlikely to cause major damage due to LIHKG sitting behind an anti-DDoS service, as well as due to some bugs in the malicious Javascript code. However, if the Great Cannon or similar malware tools were used more regularly they might cause collateral damage to US-based servers.

In August 2017 the Great Cannon had already been deployed against the Chinese-language news website Mingjingnews.com.

Chinese government news outlet People's Daily recently described LIHKG and Telegram as "bases for perpetrators of atrocities and 'colour revolutions'".

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