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Two news websites run by journalists in exile under attack; junta suspected

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Two leading news organizations run by Burmese exiles have reported sustained, aggressive attacks on their online servers in late July 2008.

The Burmese-language website of Mizzima News has been inaccessible since 27 July due to persistent and severe Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks. The website of Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) has also been under attack since 20 July.

Mizzima said its Burmese-language website received more than five GB of data in less than 15 minutes, many times more than it usually gets, according to its webmaster, who added that this amount of information is more than what the site can handle.

The webmaster explained that a DDoS attack is an attempt to disable a website by overwhelming it with information requests, making it incapable of responding to regular traffic.

In a statement released on 25 July, DVB Deputy Executive Director Khin Maung Win accused the Burmese military government of staging the online attacks.

"We can easily say that the junta is behind this," he said.

In an e-mail sent to media outlets, Khin Maung Win asked for support as his organization is trying to find a solution to fend off the online attacks. DVB is a major Burmese news agency that provides television reports direct from Burma.

Mizzima also voiced suspicions that the military government is behind the disruption.

An IT consultant for Mizzima explained that there had been many intrusion attempts on its website by servers in China, Russia and Hungary. At least 30 servers are involved in the attack, he added.

Mizzima said Burmese IT specialists and engineers loyal to the military regime are known to be studying in the mentioned countries.

Mizzima News, a Burmese independent news agency based in New Delhi, India, run by exiled Burmese journalists, is an independent multi-media group focusing on Burma and related news and issues. It maintains four websites - Mizzima.com, Mizzimaburmese.com, Mizzimaphoto.com and Mizzima.tv.

Besides distributing daily news both in English and Burmese, Mizzima also podcasts video stories on its Mizzima.tv site, which are frequently picked up by other news organizations.

Both Mizzima's Burmese and English sites attract an average of 10,000 to 15,000 unique visitors per day but the number of hits jumped to hundreds of thousands during the September protests in Burma in 2007 and in May and June 2008, following the destruction wrought by Cyclone Nargis.

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