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Burma crippled by internet attack ahead of election

Days before the first elections in 20 years the entire country has been taken offline.

Map of the internet.
Map of the internet.
Image: curiouslee via Creative Commons

BURMA HAS BEEN hit by a massive internet attack, just days of the country’s first election for 20 years.

The attack began in October but in recent days has grown to such an extent as to make internet use virtually impossible, according to security firm Arbor Networks.

On 7 November Burma is to hold national elections, although international observers and foreign journalists are not being allowed into the country to cover the polls, the BBC reports.

Suspicions that Burma’s military authorities could be trying to restrict the flow of information over the election period have been raised.

Despite the insistence by the country’s ruling generals that the upcoming election will mark a transition to democratic civilian rule, many fear the elections will be a sham. Burma’s last elections were held in 1990, when Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory. However, the junta ignored the result and have been in power ever since.

The attack on Burma’s internet services is known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which works by flooding a target with too much data.

Burma attaches to the wider internet through cables and satellites that can support data transfers of 45 megabits of data per second – at most. At one point, the DDoS attack was overwhelming the country’s connections to the wider net with about 10-15 gigabits of data every second.

Dr Craig Labovitz from Arbor Networks said the volume of traffic was “several hundred times more than enough” to flood the links. He added the attack was sophisticated in that it rolled together several different types of DDoS attacks and traffic was coming from many different sources.

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