back to article China fires up 'Great Cannon' denial-of-service blaster, points it toward Hong Kong

China is reportedly using the 'cannon' capabilities of its massive domestic internet to try and take down anti-government websites in Hong Kong. The team at AT&T Cybersecurity reports that LIHKG, a forums and social news site being used to organize protests on the island, has been the target of an ongoing distributed denial of …

  1. Brian Miller

    Collateral damage

    "Still, it is disturbing to see an attack tool with the potential power of the Great Cannon used more regularly, and again causing collateral damage to US based services."

    I wonder how much "collateral damage" is happening. Also, if a foreign power fires off their iCannon, and their packets land on US networks, is that an act of war?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Collateral damage

      Man the idecks! Set the main isail!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Collateral damage

        Hard to port 443!

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Anyone surprised

    I can imagine that in the near future the Good Ole US of Trump will begin the same kind of tactics against the fake news, impeachment sites...

    Trump aside, I personally would not like to be a Hong Kong native at this time, I can only sympathise with those that wish to remain free and democratic. Its time that Carrie Lam stands down before a damned massacre occurs.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Anyone surprised

      Its time that Carrie Lam stands down before a damned massacre occurs.

      Won't make any difference.

      The protesters are trying to "egg" China to violently "pacify" the civil unrest in order to get the US and/or UK to intervene.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Anyone surprised

        It is interesting to see colour revolution tactics being applied an tonote that according to the NED website they have contributed getting on for half a million dollars to Hong Kong in 2018 alone.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
      2. Azerty

        Re: Anyone surprised

        Funny thing is these "protesters" are "demanding greater democracy" but typically they will do everything to silence anyone disagreeing with them or refuting their serial lies, such as that the HK police is raping and murdering arrested protesters.

        You comment goes strait to the core of this "revolution", the truth they hate so much,that calls for a fat downvote.

        1. elaar

          Re: Anyone surprised

          "demanding greater democracy" - No they're not, they're protesting to ensure democracy isn't bit-by-bit taken from them.

          There were 2million protesters, are they all like you suggest are you making a massive generalisation there?

          Did they make up being attacked by mobs as well?

      3. Flywheel Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Anyone surprised

        US and/or UK to intervene

        That will never happen! The US is so confused by the Orange Leader's daily policy changes that it wouldn't intervene. The UK is a powerless puppet state and Boris is busy sucking up to everyone with any power. We also don't have anything to intervene with.

        1. GnuTzu Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Anyone surprised

          "We also don't have anything to intervene with." Really? No cyber-military industrial complex? Aren't there lobbyists for this?

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Anyone surprised

            "

            No cyber-military industrial complex?

            "

            None that would be willing to go head-to-head with China.

    2. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Anyone surprised

      If she steps down, she will be replaced by another puppet. It won't appease the protesters for long. The things they demand, cannot be given - any Chief Executive who does will be swiftly out of a career.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: Anyone surprised

        @Suricou Raven - "The things they demand, cannot be given"

        One has already been given, and the rest relate to what was promised in the Basic Law. The Five Demands are:

        1. Full withdrawal of the extradition bill already given.

        2. A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality Article 28: no arbitrary or unlawful arrest, torture, or killing

        3. Retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters” Article 27: freedom of speech, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration

        4. Amnesty for arrested protesters Article 27: freedom of speech, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration

        5. Dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive Article 45: The ultimate aim is selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage; Article 68:The ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage.

        @Suricou Raven - "any Chief Executive who does will be swiftly out of a career"

        Carrie Lam isn't going to get re-elected anyway. Her choice is between a legacy of "the CE who destroyed HK" and "the CE who saved HK".

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Anyone surprised

          "

          Amnesty for arrested protesters Article 27: freedom of speech, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration

          "

          *So long as said protests are peaceful.* There is no right for violent assemby, procession or demonstration. From what I have seen on the news footage, the protesters are more violent than the police, and frequently commit acts of wanton vandalism for no legitimate purpose.

          They may have a noble cause, but they do themselves no favours when they smash up legitimate buildings and throw molatov cocktails.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone surprised

      LOL that's not how the US government works. It's what propaganda wants you to believe though, but who's propaganda is it?

  3. PhilipN Silver badge

    Really?

    Sounds somewhat nebulous to me. November 25 was 5 months after the protests started. Coupled with the emotive comment - “disturbing” - sounds like propaganda all of its own.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like FUD to me, China already OWNS Hong Kong, I'm sure they don't need to DDoS a site to take it offline.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Well, they could always just do as nice democratic India has done in Kashmir - without the provocation of such violent protests - and cut it off altogether.

      Remind me. Which Western governments and police forces currently have powers to suspend access to social media in the event of civil unrest?

      Icon for low-tech communication.

    2. gerdesj Silver badge
      Devil

      China already OWNS Hong Kong

      "China already OWNS Hong Kong"

      That's a very unpleasant take on how nations work. Funnily enough it might be said to be true when Honkers was a Crown colony. When the 99 year lease ran out, it returned to being a part of the DPRC or China, which was the legal leaseholder of those territories and that was their default position. China does not own Honk Kong any more than it can be said to own Beijing. I'm not quite sure exactly what HKs exact status is but it is not one of ownership in the sense of chattel.

      1. jospanner

        Re: China already OWNS Hong Kong

        The nationstate is a terrible idea that is necessarily violent

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: China already OWNS Hong Kong

        > That's a very unpleasant take on how nations work.

        For toytowners, any deviation from a huggy narrative is unpleasant.

        Key point: nations differ. Not everyone is huggy. Pretending otherwise can lead to unpleasant consequences.

        > I'm not quite sure exactly what HKs exact status is but it is not one of ownership in the sense of chattel.

        I suggest you get a whole lot more experience with China/China's elites.

        Start with finding out what "raw food" and "cooked noodles" mean, in terms of subjugating (invaded) peoples.

      3. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: China already OWNS Hong Kong

        technically the ROC or "Taiwan" is the successor of the state that leased the island to Britain.

        not the PRC or "China"

    3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      @AC - "Sounds like FUD to me, China already OWNS Hong Kong, I'm sure they don't need to DDoS a site to take it offline."

      It is the currently-available option that they have:

      1. One Country, Two Systems. HK is outside the Great Firewall

      2. LIHKG is a .com, currently being served to me from the USA by Cloudflare

      There is a proposal to impose restrictions, but it would face challenges under Article 27 and Article 30 of the Basic Law, and jeopardise HK's status as an international financial centre.

  5. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    How charming....

    So if you bring your laptop or Chromebook to China, they may be able to recruit it into their DDoS army.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: How charming....

      Only if you allow all javascript

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That reminds me...

    ... Of the time when the US accused Iraq of having built a Great Cannon, literally. The level of credibility was even higher than for this one: the CIA provided pictures.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: That reminds me...

      Iraq really was trying to build a Supergun.

      Though I did find it strange that the minor detail that it couldn't possibly work, and would have buckled during assembly, exploded on firing or failed to actually launch a round out of the end didn't seem to matter to anyone.

      I mean, while it's pretty good fieldcraft to get your enemy to waste huge resources on a pink or white elephant, I never did work out who played who.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: That reminds me...

        "

        Though I did find it strange that the minor detail that it couldn't possibly work, and would have buckled during assembly, exploded on firing or failed to actually launch a round out of the end didn't seem to matter to anyone.

        "

        Quite. So ask youself whether the statement that Iraq was attempting to build such a thing could possibly have been true. It's not as if Iraq lacked scientists and engineers who would have been able to tell what is and is not feasible. Of course, the West wants you to believe that ME countries are full of stupid, uncivilised barbarians incapable of understanding anything more sophisticated than a catapault.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: That reminds me...

      Anon,

      The same guy who built HAARP got sad because nobody would fund his giant gun for firing stuff into space and so designed the Supergun for Iraq. They got as far as ordering parts - but didn't have the ability to manufacture in-country so it got stopped. Whether it would have worked is another matter.

      Their chemical weapons programs were all home-grown, because the technology is easier and they had lots of oil. Although their nerve agents were a bit rubbish due to poor chemical purity (so had short shelf lives) and their biological programs never really got going. Their other problem was crap delivery tech - which they couldn't get from foreign sources as there's no dual-use stuff there - so they mostly used mustard gas delivered by artillery - which is nice and easy WWI technology.

      See all the UN weapons inspectors reports from the 1990s for details. Those reports also say what they had found the paperwork for but not yet destroyed - which was the basis for assuming Iraq still had stocks of weapons in 2002.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That reminds me...

        as much as I'm ashamed by it, and hate the man, Donald Rumsfeld sold the chemicals weapons to Saddam. We have the receipt.

  7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    How many comms links from Hong Kong go through Mainland China?

    1. Norman Nescio

      HKG telecomms cable links

      How many comms links from Hong Kong go through Mainland China?

      Fewer than you might think. A legacy of the UK ownership of Hong Kong and the lease of the New Territories, a large number of submarine cable systems connect to Hong Kong. Take a look at Greg's Cable Map and centre it on Hong Kong.

  8. John Savard Silver badge

    No Internet for You

    If the Chinese government is behind a DDoS attack, surely that's a violation of the Internet's terms of service. Shouldn't their country's links to the Internet be cut off?

    Of course, that might be difficult. China no doubt has some direct connections to the world Internet that go through Russia.

    1. Imhotep

      Re: No Internet for You

      Internet Terms Of Service? Is there one? Asking because I honestly don't know, but I don't know how legal or enforceable such a document would be.

      1. Soruk

        Re: No Internet for You

        Presumably the terms of service of the ISPs they peer with?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: No Internet for You

          What terms? Besides, they're not likely to be in a position to know what's what. Furthermore, China holds sovereign authority within its own borders.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: No Internet for You

            "China holds sovereign authority within its own borders."

            Be that as it may, "other countries" hosting DDoS networks have found themselves entirely depeered until they started behaving - which is usually a matter of hours if not less.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: No Internet for You

              Including the US?

  9. dave 81

    Fuck China

    And fuck our spineless politicians for doing fuck all.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Fuck China

      What CAN be done that would have much effect on a nation of some two billion (most men) with an aggressive mindset...and nukes?

      1. ThadiasVonBasterd

        Re: Fuck China

        the immidiate cessation of all trade with China for a start. Europe and the US pour billions into their economy, possibly even trillions.

        China is the greatest threat to freedom and civilisation the world has ever seen, We should not be playing nice.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Fuck China

          "

          China is the greatest threat to freedom and civilisation the world has ever seen, We should not be playing nice.

          "

          Thankyou for swallowing the propaganda. Question - how many countries has China invaded over the past 20 years? How about USA? How about the UK? Say again where this "threat to freedom" is coming from?

          And I assure you that stopping all trade with China would hurt us more than hurts China. Especially if China started calling in its debts or closing its Western factories. Heck, it probably owns most of UK and USA.

          Not to mention the huge cost of living increase that would occur if all goods made in China were to disappear from our shelves - and the knock-on increases when Western goods no longer needed to compete with Chinese goods.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Fuck China

        What CAN be done

        Charles 9,

        Well one policy that will have some effect but not really give an excuse to get all warlike is targetted sanctions. They aren't fast - sanctions never are. But the elites in places like Russia and China are absolutely desperated to get their ill-gotten money out of the country. As with no rule of law, they know that they might have to make a run for it someday. And leaving it there means they're vulnerable to their successors. So stopping them from doing that is a good way of making certain policies unpopular with the political leadership.

        The New York Times had a series of articles claiming that Wen Jiabao's family amassed $4bn while he was premier of China. Which got the NYT banned by the Great Firewall and lots of complaints. But when you've nicked that kind of cash - you don't exactly want to leave it lying around.

        Trump's tarriffs aren't exactly helping the Chinese economy either. Not they're anything to do with Hong Kong and won't bring much manufacturing back to the US. But they might move some of it to Vietnam or Indonesia.

        Broader economic sanctions might happen if they send the troops in though.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Fuck China

          Sanctions may hurt, but China has historically had an independent mindset. Look what's happening with Huawei and all. Don't be surprised if you push China away and they decide to go it alone. It's been part of their mindset for centuries. Like I said, they got two billion people (a good deal expendable--remember Korea), plenty of internal resources, and a decent number of outlets that can't be readily controlled by the West (think Africa et al). Let's just say China can still play a longer game than the West, especially today.

          Oh, and sneaky folks exploiting the status quo usually are already versed in money laundering techniques and other ways of getting around pesky little things like targeted sanctions.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Fuck China

            WRT "sneaky folks" - the thing they're _most_ afraid of is publicity.

            It's going to be "interesting" to see what China (and other control-freak countries) do when it's a simple matter of pointing a - nearly impossible to detect - skylink antenna at passing LEO birds. Threatening to shoot them down wouldn't go down well with a large number of other countries thanks to Mr Kessler.

          2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Fuck China

            China can't go it alone now. They've made their economy dependent on trade with the rest of the world. They've made their bed and they've got to lie in it.

            The thing that's kept the Chinese Communist Party in power now that there's no ideology left is a combination of the threat of force and the promise of economic growth. From things that journalists over there here from the party elites - I get the impression even they seem to think that force isn't enough to keep them in power in the long term - and so they need to keep the economy growing nicely. And that's been getting harder and harder lately.

            And despite all the stuff you hear about how great their long term planning is, the ways of boosting the economy for the last decade have mostly been short-termism. Several times governments have launched initiatives to cut the debt of the state owned enterprises and stop over-producing things like solar panels, ships and the old heavy industries. And each time that leads to the inevitable short term drop in growth, they panic and ramp up the investment based on debt export model again.

            Also unlike the USA, China isn't all that resource rich. They import loads of their metal, quite a bit of coal and almost all their oil. Decoupling from the global economy now would be devastating. It would be pretty devastating for the rest of the world too of course - Japan, Korea and to a lesser extent Taiwan are so plugged into Chinese manufacturing nowadays that large chunks of their industrial supply chains are inter-dependent.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Fuck China

              "They import loads of their metal, quite a bit of coal and almost all their oil."

              You assume they do this because they lack the capacity to extract their own when it may simply be cheaper to import. The math of this can change quickly if import prices jack up. It's like with rare earths: China's simply the cheapest option, but if they overplay their hand, expect logistics changes.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Fuck China

          "Not they're anything to do with Hong Kong and won't bring much manufacturing back to the US. But they might move some of it to Vietnam or Indonesia."

          The stuff that CAN move out already moved out years ago. Chinese workers are as expensive as American ones. This is one of the reasons they're hurting.

          Trump's tariffs and belligerence are providing the Chinese leadership with an _excuse_ to keep acting out and means they can point a finger at him. The soybean issue was beyond the chinese leadership control anyway (it's hard to convince pig farmers to keep buying soybeans when their pigs are dying off en-masse - you don't buy food for non-existent animals - and if China _chose_ to "let" its raging swine flu (more like swine ebola) epidemic get into the USA the game would be over in less than a week)

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Fuck China

        "

        ... with an aggressive mindset...and nukes?

        "

        Are you talking about China or the USA?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Fuck China

          You forget the "two billion people" part. A lot of unmarried males unable to find a wife says something about expendable resources...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Pick up your balls and load up your cannon for the 21 gun salute!"

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