Hong Kong-based anti-Beijing newspaper, Apple Daily, has been taken offline for hours in what is said to be the largest ever distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack experienced by the media firm.
Apple Daily's website was hit with more than 40 million enquiries per second during its peak, which forced the system to halt as well as disabling regular web users' access to pages for several hours.
Next Media, Apple Daily's publisher, reported that access to the newspaper's Hong Kong website had virtually grinded to a halt for about 12 hours, while other sites, including Apple Daily Taiwan, also experienced glitches for varying durations.
Next Media COO Tim Yiu was quoted by the New York Times as saying: "The scale is so big that it overwhelmed the DDoS protection service provider we hired to prevent an outage like this."
The latest attack comes in the midst of Apple Daily's support for Occupy Central campaign, which is arranging a rally in support of the public's right to propose candidates for the election of Hong Kong's next chief executive, which is not favoured by Chinese authorities.
Apple Daily issued a statement, which read: "We have reason to strongly suspect the attack was carried out by hackers from China, trying to suppress Hong Kong people's determination to fight for democracy and to attack the pro-universal suffrage Next Media group."
A similar attack was simultaneously made on Occupy Central's online voting platform, pointing fingers at opponents of Occupy Central, who are said to be attempting to foil the campaign.
Reports also reveal that Hong Kong's two major banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered, pulled out ads from Next Media under pressure from Beijing.