- The Washington Times - Monday, August 26, 2013

Internet users in China received a single message on Sunday while trying to get online: service denied.

That’s because the nation was hit by the largest hacklike attack in its history, the China Internet Network Information Center reported. The attack struck at the country’s domain extension, CNN reported, and what that meant to users was this: They all received a “denial of service” message.

Denials of service aren’t technically the same as hacks, since they can occur without someone breaking into the system, CNN said. They can happen when someone organizes a host of computers to flood a system with information requests all at the same time.

But they are similar in one key way — the end result. The information overload shuts down computer systems, and for the average user, that means websites are unreachable, similar to when hackers physically tap into or infect the servers.

The attack started about 2 a.m. local time Sunday (2 p.m. EDT) and then hit again in a second wave a couple of hours later. Tech spokesman described it as “long-lasting and large scale,” state media reported. Service on Monday was still spotty.

It’s not clear if the attack was related to anything political. The country is wrapping up the trial of one of its most notable former Communist Party heads, Bo Xilai, on corruption charges.