UN says meeting on future of internet hit by suspected hack

The ITU meeting to discuss the future control of the internet was temporarily disrupted for two hours on Wednesday after what's thought to be a malicious attack on its systems.
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor on

A meeting to discuss the future of internet governance taking place in Dubai was temporarily disrupted on Wednesday afternoon as a result of an attempted hack, according to the UN.

The UN's World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) meeting, currently ongoing in Dubai, is discussing proposed changes to the International Telecommunication Regulation (ITR) that would see telecoms body the ITU take a more central role in control of the internet, moving some power away from US interests.

The main meeting and some of the ITU's websites were temporarily knocked offline on Wednesday as the result of a suspected hack.

"The incident blocked civil society, media and other interested parties from following the proceedings, and prevented access to the wealth of online information on the ITU's WCIT home page and newsroom," the ITU said in a statement on Thursday. "Some hacker groups are claiming responsibility."

While the organisation could not confirm unequivocally that the situation was the result of a hack, it did say that an investigation is now being carried out.

"Without conclusive proof, we do not directly accuse. We did notice a lot of activity online under the hashtag #OpWCIT, and elsewhere, and subsequently a lot of groups claiming that they had attacked the site immediately after our systems crashed," a spokesman told ZDNet.

The issue would have been less disruptive to proceedings if the WCIT meeting hadn't been a paperless conference — a move designed to minimise the paper wastage that can come with translating all documents into six languages.

"A spirit of camaraderie prevailed, with those who had access to up-to-date online versions of the texts willingly sharing with other delegates in order to keep discussions moving forward," the ITU said.

The problem caused a reduced service for up to two hours while traffic switched to a backup hosted in a different region.

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