Several government websites in Taiwan suffered intermittent outages due to multiple distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks yesterday following the arrival of senior US lawmaker, Nancy Pelosi.
The visit has angered Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own.
Pelosi reportedly met the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and reiterated Washington’s support for the democratic island nation, with a population of 24 million.
Simultaneously, reports suggested the websites of Taiwan’s presidential office, foreign ministry and other government portals were briefly knocked offline after being flooded with traffic.
In a statement seen by Reuters, the foreign ministry claimed that the websites of the ministry and the presidential office were hit with up to 8.5 million traffic requests per minute from a “large number of IPs from China, Russia and other places.”
In a separate statement on Facebook, a Tsai spokesperson said that the attack had funnelled 200 times more traffic than usual to the site. However, the site was back up and running just 20 minutes later, reportedly.
The scale of the attacks indicates patriotic hacktivists rather than Chinese state hackers are behind the raids.
Casey Ellis, founder and CTO of Bugcrowd, said “while the PRC is more than capable of this type of attack, DDoS is fairly unsophisticated and somewhat brutish, and it’s not a tool they are known to deploy.”
“China has enormous population of very clever technologists, a large security research and hacking community, and a large government-sponsored team with offensive capability ranging from information warfare to targeted exploit development and R&D.”
Chinese president Xi Jinping has stirred up nationalist feeling in the country since coming to power in 2021, in a bid to cement the rule of the Communist Party and continue China’s ascent.
These efforts are aided by online censorship measures, leaving only pro-party and nationalist rhetoric standing.