According to the BBC, overseas hackers have been disrupting Chinese websites for the past month. At stake in this online battle? The independence of Tibet and other politically sensible topics that have brought China to the center of media attention.
One the latest targets of the cyber-attacks has been “Red Heart”, a website movement in which 7 million Chinese MSN users added a patriotic red heart to their usernames. The hackers posted the Tibet independence flag on 5sai.com, the site that initiated the movement. The hacking also came with the usual “denial of service” (DoS). The attackers’ IP addresses were in some cases attributed to Europe - although one should keep in mind that it is notoriously difficult to determine with a high level of precision who is behind a cyber-attack. As the Olympics come closer and tension does not seem to decrease it looks like, for once, it is time to look West.
Spontaneous patriotic campaigns by Internet users are not unheard of, even in China. The (mistaken?) bombing of the Belgrade embassy by the US air force had prompted a number of serious hackings of american governmental websites – including the homepage of the U.S. embassy in Beijing and U.S. Department of Interior. It is however one of the first large-scale hacktivist movement against Chinese sites. It looks like the Games have already started on the Internet.