Hacker Attack on Baidu.com

2006-09-20 - chong

When the portal website of Baidu.com broke down recently, what reasons came into the mind of Liu Jianguo, Baidu.com's Chief Technology Officer?

Baidu.com, the biggest search engine in China, was attacked by hackers on September 12. The breakdown lasted for almost 30 minutes. Baidu claimed that the attack was pre-meditated and highly organized. Some speculated that it is related to its recent cutbacks in personnel and its litigation with former clients.

As Liu Jianguo said, the hackers used the technique of syn flooding to create a huge number of IP addresses to overload the servers. He claimed that this kind of attack was so unusal that it is likely to be a revenge organized by a company or a group rather than a single individual.

It is believed that the attack is related to two recent incidents. Some former Baidu.com's advertising customers sued Baidu.com for filtering out their information in all search results. This happened after they decided not to renew their contract with them. It was also alleged that Baidu competed with their rivals, like Google, by not displaying certain key links of Google's customers. Despite moral condemnation and public concern, some lawyers pointed that there was no law regulating what information a search engine should show to its users.

Over the past few months, Baidu.com has laid off some employees and shut down its software department in July without prior notice. Some workers submitted an arbitration applicaton to court. But Baidu.com did not want to arouse more controversies and said it affected less than 1% of its 2,000 staff.

Yet an experienced hacker suggested that this was only an attack launched by an individual hacker who felt furious with what Baidu.com had done to its staff and former advertising customers. Baidu has so far refused to comment on it.

Baidu.com, the most popular internet search engine in China, was accused of providing links to websites of music pirates and helping the China government censor politically sensitive information. It got listed on Nasdaq in August last year and its stock price had skyrocketed from US$27 to US$122.54 on the first date of trading. Recently it is threatened by competition from Google who is expanding in China, the world's second largest internet market.

Photo: doubleaf