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Chinese hackers call off attack on CNN website

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A group of Chinese nationalist hackers calling themselves "Revenge of the Flame" has temporarily called off a planned attack on the website of news channel CNN. The group had organized the attack in protest of the network's coverage of unrest in Tibet, which they believed was overly critical of China and biased in favor of the Tibetans.

The group planned to take the CNN website offline by flooding its servers with internet traffic, in what is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The attack was scheduled for April 19, but was canceled because too many others had become aware of their plan.

"Our original plan for 19 April has been canceled because too many people are aware of it and the situation is chaotic," the group said in a statement released April 17. However, they repeatedly stated that the attack would commence on another day. "The attack hasn’t been cancelled; it will be carried out on an unspecified day in the near future," the statement read.

Despite the attack being called off, some had apparently decided to proceed earlier than expected. On Thursday, CNN reported attempts to disrupt its website, prompting countermeasures that affected the site's availability for some users in Asia. "CNN took preventative measures to filter traffic in response to attempts to disrupt our Web site," the network said in a statement. "A small percentage of users in Asia are impacted."

CNN and other Western media outlets have come under criticism from Chinese viewers in the past weeks for their coverage of China and Tibet. The movement against CNN has spawned the website, which aims to "expose the lies and distortions in the western media". The site generates over five million hits a day, according to its founder, Rao Jin. The movement also spawned the slogan "Don't be too CNN", which is the basis for two songs that have become increasingly popular among Internet users in China.

In a statement, CNN responded to the criticism of their reporting. "CNN's reputation is based on reporting global news accurately and impartially," the network stated, "while our coverage through the use of words, images or video always reflects a wide range of opinions and points of view on every story."