Belgian parliament halts China Uyghur 'genocide' debate after DDoS smashes ISP offline

Plus: Register.com, Network Solutions DNS down and Cloudflare has a wobble


Government and academic websites and IT services in Belgium were down for hours on Tuesday after their internet provider Belnet was hit by a significant distributed denial-of-service tsunami.

“The Belnet network is currently under DDoS attack, resulting in reduced connectivity for our customers. Our teams are working hard to mitigate the attacks and restore connectivity,” the ISP said on its website.

It sounded the alarm after 1000 UTC, and posted a series of updates every two hours until about 1600 UTC. The last message said the team had “successfully implemented several mitigation rules,” and the “effect of the attack seems to be diminishing.”

Important government-related .be websites are up and running, including the Belgian parliament's web presence, and the Supreme Administrative Court of Belgium. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, however, remain offline at the time of writing. Services such as Belgium’s coronavirus vaccine portal were knocked offline, too, according to AP.

It is estimated that some 200 Belnet customers – which are educational and scientific institutions, research labs, and government organizations in the country – were affected by the downtime. Details of the DDoS, said to be large scale, are scarce, and it’s not clear who was behind the attack nor why. Samuel Cogolati, an MP of Belgium’s environmentally focused political party Ecolo, noted that the time of the attack seemed to coincide with a parliamentary committee meeting on whether to accuse China of genocide regarding its treatment of Uyghur Muslims though there was other business on the agenda.

Cogolati was just hit with counter-sanctions by Beijing for speaking out against what he described as the persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. China denies the West's allegations of mistreatment amid mounting evidence to the contrary.

In any case, the parliament's proceedings were halted after the DDoS knocked out connectivity to the outside world. A Uyghur woman was expected to tell Belgian politicians what she experienced in China's camps, according to Cogolati. The Register has asked Belnet for further information and comment. ®

In other outage news... Register.com (no relation) and its Web.com stablemate Network Solutions suffered a outage for most of Tuesday that left some people unable to access websites and other services via their domain names. In the past two hours, Register.com claimed its systems are returning to normal.

Also Cloudflare suffered some "issues with network performance" on the US East Coast, and said it has rolled out a fix and is monitoring the situation.

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