GitHub appears to have been drawn into what may be an effort to disable services used to skirt censors in China.
GitHub, a company that hosts programming repositories, was slammed by what it calls the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in its nearly decade-long history.
On Sunday evening, GitHub reported that all of its systems were running at full health. However, GitHub remains on high alert.
All systems reporting at 100%. Attack traffic continues, so we remain on high alert.
— GitHub Status (@githubstatus) March 30, 2015
The DDoS attacks, which began on March 26, used several methods to inundate GitHub with traffic from unsuspecting Web users.
"These include every vector we've seen in previous attacks as well as some sophisticated new techniques that use the Web browsers of unsuspecting, uninvolved people to flood github.com with high levels of traffic," stated GitHub in a March 27 blog post.
The flood of traffic came from Baidu, the Chinese search engine company that is only second in size to Google globally, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The traffic was directed at GitHub pages that linked to copies of GreatFire.org and the Chinese language version of the New York Times, both of which are banned in China, the report stated. GreatFire.org has spoken out against Chinese censors and the organization aids web users in China in skirting the government's blocks.
GitHub wouldn't confirm what elements of its systems appeared to have been the target of the DDoS attack. However, it indicated that it believed the attacks to be a concerted attempt at coercion.
"Based on reports we've received, we believe the intent of this attack is to convince us to remove a specific class of content," stated GitHub.
If the reports are true and GitHub was indeed attacked by the Chinese government or one of its proxies, it wouldn't be the first time the code repository has suffered a cyber offensive from China.
In January 2013, the Chinese government blocked access inside the country to the U.S.-based repository for computer code. In less than three days, however, China unblocked access to GitHub.
When GitHub was blocked back in 2013, GreatFire stepped up and provided a tutorial to help Web users get around the censorship.