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Burmese Dissident Websites Attacked

Burmese Dissident Websites Attacked

Terry Evans

29 September 2010

This week massive cyber attacks have swamped several websites that support the Burmese pro-democracy movement. The major attacks came from Chinese Internet Provider (IP) addresses, with smaller assaults initiated from IP addresses in Russia, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Vietnam,Turkey, the US and Australia.

The attacks - called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) - used a multitude of compromised systems to send a stream of incoming messages to pro-democracy websites, resulting in the complete shutdown of three sites.

During the September 2007 monk-led anti-government protests, the same websites played a major role in distributing information to the outside world. Technically savvy bloggers inside Burma posted up-to-date news and photos of protests and subsequent violent crackdown that captured the attention of the world.

Since 2007 the Singapore Government, which has close financial links with Burma's generals, has helped the junta to establish a sophisticated computer espionage centre in Rangoon. The cyber centre has been tasked with monitoring the online activities of dissidents, both inside Burma and in exile. In the past three years, similar attacks have been carried out in an attempt to disrupt the pro-democracy movement.

With the November 7 General Election fast approaching, the Burmese junta has banned foreign election observers, and restricted the number of visas issued to westerners. Burmese journalists in exile have also raised concerns about increased internet restrictions in Burma. Many believe this week's cyber strikes were merely a prelude to an all-out cyber war on pro-democracy websites during the elections.


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