Published Jun 16. 2012 - 10 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 8. 2020

Sorry Mr. Jintao!

We have had to generally block any incoming traffic from China due to an excessive load from servers trying to hack their way into our system.

President Hu Jintao - The president of China - who most likely does not fly-fish...
The Chinese president

An open letter to the president of China, Mr. Hu Jintao.

To think that just in these days where you, Mr. Jintao, is on an official visit here in Denmark, we have had to exclude all Chinese from the Global FlyFisher.

The past days out excellent hosting company Hostgator has had to shut down our server several times due to an overload on the CPU. This normally happens when some script goes haywire due to an error (an endless loop for instance) or when someone deliberately or by accident accesses the server thousands of times per minute. We have a server that can cope with quite a bit of traffic, and it usually handles our 5-6,000 daily visitors and 1.5 million monthly pages with no hassle. But when one single machine or a handful of machines are set up to repeatedly carpet bomb the site with so called URL injections or code injections, essentially trying to poke rogue code into our system, it gets too busy handling the problem. The result is an overloaded system that can't serve anyone - neither the attacking machines nor ordinary users.

The attacks are futile. The site is well protected. But the useless traffic is a pain.

At first we have tried to hunt down the individual machines that perform the attack. This can be done based on IP-numbers, and these can then be excluded and blackholed as it's called, literally directing their requests into void, and returning them nothing. But since China is large and the hackers obviously has command over a ton of machines, there are hundreds if not thousands of IP-numbers, and in the end the hunt becomes a parody.

So we ended up simply excluding all of China!

That means that any access from any machine with a Chinese IP-number will be turned away in the door, and never see anything.
Too bad for about one sixth to one seventh of the population on the earth!
But you can thank your busy fellow countrymen. The paradox is that almost all the Chinese traffic has been going to one section and even one page of the site, namely our slideshows. Whatever the Chinese hackers expected to find there is beyond me.

Too bad for about one sixth to one seventh of the population on the earth!

But as I said Mr.President: no more Global Flyfisher for you or your countrymen - unless you of course use foreign IP-numbers, which is possible for the individual, but cumbersome on a grand scale.
This month until now we have had 186 legit visits from China. Last month we had 166 altogether. Compared to about 600/1000 from Japan, 1500/3000 from Russia and about 12,000 visits per month from countries like the UK and Canada. The US is the biggest "market" for us with some 60-70,000 visits per month. So loosing the less than 200 real visits from China will be a small loss.

So Mr. Jintao, no more great fly-fishing content for you and your countrymen!
I hear that you like dancing and papercutting, but the sparse information on your interests and hobbies does not mention fly-fishing. Statistically there is a very little chance that you do fly-fish. It doesn't seem to be a common pastime in your country. Fishing is quite widespread, but mostly baitfishing for food it appears. Your countrymen's interest in fly-fishing, as in many other areas, seems to be producing equipment and clothing for the rest of the world.

So that's how the cookie crumbles.
Goodbye China!

PS: I think it's about time that China's authorities did something serious about these hackers. I won't accuse the official China of being involved in hacking - plenty other people have done that - but must admit that I find it pretty unlikely that private people can or will launch the kind of attacks that we see on Western installations. As China enters the "good company" of industrial countries, it's not very suitable to harbor hackers in the number that China obviously does. So, Mr. Jintao: do something.

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