Hong Kong current events
In early August, we examined data demonstrating a striking correlation between real-world and online conflict , which ASERT tracks on a continual basis [2-7]. Recent political unrest provides another situation in which strong correlative indicators emerge when conducting time-series analysis of DDoS attack data.
The latest round of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong began on September 22nd when “. . . Students from 25 schools and universities go ahead with a week-long boycott to protest Beijing’s decision to proceed with indirect elections for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive position.” . The protests ramped up on September 28th when a larger pro-democracy group, Occupy Central with Love and Peace, combined forces with the student demonstrators [8-9]. On October 1st, protesters vowed to increased the level of civil disobedience if Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Leung Chun-Ying, did not step down . Since that time, tensions have increased, with police crackdowns, tear gas, barricades, skirmishes, shutdowns of government buildings and infrastructure, and heavy use of social media to promote both pro-and anti-protest sentiment. By examining Arbor ATLAS Internet-wide attack visibility data we have identified DDoS attack activity in the APAC region which correlates strongly with the ebb and flow of protest activity in Hong Kong.
Arbor’s ATLAS Initiative
The DDoS information provided in the remainder of this report is derived from Arbor’s ATLAS Initiative. Arbor ATLAS receives anonymized Internet traffic and DDoS event data from over 290 ISPs worldwide which have deployed Arbor’s DDoS Mitigation solutions. While many observed events are symptomatic of attacks during this period, it is important to note that we cannot definitively identify the motivations behind any given event.
Number of Observed DDoS Attacks
The following graph illustrates that the number of observed DDoS attacks targeting Hong Kong-related online properties more than doubled between September and October, from 1, 688 discrete attacks in September to 3, 565 attacks in October:
Although the sheer number of DDoS attacks increased significantly from September to October, there was not a significant difference with respect to other attack attributes such as size or duration. For example, the following charts break out the percentage of DDoS attacks within a given size range for both September and October, along with the raw number of DDoS attacks in that size range:
Overall, the percentage of DDoS attacks within a given size range remain fairly consistent from September to October, with the biggest difference being a relative 4% decrease in the number of DDoS attacks within the 2gb/sec-to-5gb/sec range.
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