The attack slowed data on the service, but it didn’t steal or expose any user data. It happened during protests at the Hong Kong government headquarters; protesters were demonstrating against proposed legislation that would force extradition to China for trials.
The protesters were greeted with pepper spray, rubber bullets and tear gas, and the debate about the extradition proposal was delayed. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said that most of the attackers had Chinese IP addresses.
“Historically, all state actor-sized (attacks) we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong,” Durov said. “This case was not an exception.”
Telegram is messaging app popular for organizing protests in China and Hong Kong because of its encryption capabilities, which allow for a greater degree of privacy for the user. The app is blocked in China, as is Facebook and The New York Times. Users can use software to get around that issue.
Telegram said third parties can’t read its messages.
“We can ensure that no single government or block of like-minded countries can intrude on people’s privacy and freedom of expression,” Telegram said.
The attack was a DDOS attack where “your servers get GADZILLIONS of garbage requests which stop them from processing legitimate requests,” the CEO said.
On Wednesday (June 12), Telegram said everything had stabilized.
People who don’t agree with the bill say it would affect freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong as a semi-autonomous territory of China. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the law is a necessary one and that it would have safeguards in it to protect human rights.
Hong Kong, which was a former British colony, was given back to China in 1997. The territory enjoys more freedoms than the mainland, including uncensored internet and the ability to protest.