GitHub Fending Off Anti-Censorship Cyberattack

March 30, 2015 | Peter Yeh

GitHub, a code management website used by more than 8 million developers, has been hit by a flood of data intent on taking down anti-censorship tools, the largest such attack in the site’s history. As of 11:50 UTC Monday, GitHub is back online, but the attack continues to “evolve” and the staff is racing to mitigate it.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the attack is specifically directed at 2 GitHub project pages, one called GreatFire, both of which circumvent China’s government internet censorship. GitHub themselves did not say what specifically was targeted, only that it was targeted. “[W]e believe the intent of this attack is to convince us to remove a specific class of content.” GitHub said on a blog post on Friday.

This isn’t the first time GitHub has been targeted by China. In January of 2013, GitHub was outright blocked by China’s “Great Firewall”, a nickname for the multiple approaches by which China tries to censor the web. But after a public outcry from Chinese developers it was unblocked. There was also a short, crude attack on Chinese user’s privacy trying to access GitHub. Just a few days ago, there was a similar flood attack on GreatFire’s services,

Considering GitHub is based in the US, and the anti-censorship strain in tech politics, there’s no chance that GitHub will take down the content. The attack while directed at specific content, whatever it may be, had global consequences by creating service outages for everyone. However, it may just make GreatFire completely inaccessible to Chinese citizens, so that’s really all they need to do.

(Photo: Charis Tsevis)