Internet becomes battleground in Venezuela

by Paul Jay, CBC News online

When you think of web-based attacks from hackers, what country first coes to mind? The United States? China? Try Venezuela.

Last week Akamai Technologies Inc. launched a new free web service that allowed viewers to see a sort of internet weather report on global traffic tie-ups and attacks. Surprisingly, Venezuela had the highest attacks of any region. And it wasn't really close.

On June 6, Akamai reported there had been 844 attacks in Venezuela in the past 24 hours, over 500 more attacks than the next closest nation. Over the weekend things had calmed down a bit, with the number of attacks as of 1 p.m. on June 11 down to 351 over the previous 24 hours.

China was the next-closest nation outside of the United States on Monday with 226 attacks. U.S. results were broken down by state, with California leading all states with 27 attacks in the past 24 hours.

The results are a bit surprising, but not when you consider the political unrest in the nation. According to a story from the Agence France-Presse, both anti-government protestors and government supporters have taken their fight to the internet since Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced he would not be renewing the license of a television station that was a frequent critic of his policies.

The AFP said both sides have had their sites shut down because of concentrated attacks from hackers.

The raging web war in Venezuela comes a month after Estonia's government sites were effectively shut down by a series of attacks in May.