Aug 2, 2022 - Technology

Taiwanese government websites go down during Pelosi’s visit

The Taipei 101 skyscraper displays a welcome message ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's arrival on Aug. 2. in Taipei. Photo: Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

Several Taiwanese government websites went offline on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in the country for her controversial visit.

Why it matters: Although the website outages haven’t been attributed, Chinese state hackers have been known to retaliate through low-level distributed denial of service attacks, which overwhelm a site with abnormally high traffic until it shuts down. The Chinese government has also warned that Pelosi’s visit would prompt “strong and resolute measures” in response.

Details: The websites for President Tsai Ing-wen, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport have been inoperable at times throughout the day.

  • Chang Tun-Han, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s presidential palace, said in a statement posted to Facebook that the president’s official website was “attacked by an overseas DDoS attack.” Website traffic reached 200 times that of a typical day, Tun-Han said, resulting in a 20-minute shutdown.
  • Access to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, military and airport’s websites continued to be spotty throughout Tuesday as they recover from the suspected DDoS attack.

The bigger picture: DDoS attacks have become a go-to tool for both state-sponsored hackers and activist hackers in political conflicts. They send a clear message that a country or political group is upset, but they typically aren’t destructive enough to spur retaliation from the targeted organizations.

  • Before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, Russian hackers took down the websites belonging to Ukrainian banks and government institutions.

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