Hackers are launching attacks on media institutions around the world. It is an open assault on independent media, news services, and crucial questions that need to be asked.
Many journalists believe that it is an attempt to silence them. Look at the example of Hungary. Hackers began targeting media websites there in 2021.
Among them are HBG, one of Hungary’s largest independent news portals, and the largest Hungarian media house, Media One. Attacks have intensified in the following months. It seemed like everything was shaking in June and July.
Our security systems received constant messages from Cloudflare. Dozens of emails were recorded one after another, and by then, about 40 news papers in Hungary had been shut down. Websites are hosted on a server that can only handle a limited number of connections. Hackers take advantage of this. They overload the server by sending a massive number of requests, making it impossible for regular users to reach the website. This technique is called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
Hackers infect thousands of devices to create such an army, known as a botnet. Almost all devices connected to the internet, ranging from computers to smart TVs and even security cameras, can be infected with malware. To launch an attack, hackers activate malware on all devices and instruct them to send requests to the target server.
It is possible to send up to 70 million requests per second. This causes the server to slow down or even crash completely. During such attacks, regular users are unable to reach those websites. During this time, independent media and investigative journalists around the world are struggling with DDoS attacks. In 2021, several media institutions in the Philippines that published critical online reports about President Rodrigo Duterte were targeted. India has seen the highest number of DDoS attacks in the world.
Important websites in India have experienced a significant increase in such attacks compared to the previous year. However, an attack is not always necessary.
It is more of a threat. If a media institution prints a story and faces a major attack, it is unlikely that anyone else will want to do the same. This is not censorship, but it has a negative impact that makes us self-censor. In addition to silencing journalists, these attacks put a heavy burden on the resources of companies. If websites are shut down, ads cannot run, and that means companies lose their revenue.
Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for media institutions and other important websites to include techniques in their security protocols to detect and prevent such attacks in real-time..