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A renewed zest for enforcing China’s Great Firewall has seen a series of sophisticated and large scale direct denial of service (DDoS) attacks in the country over the last month, including a six-day attack on GitHub, as well as the Chinese mirror site for the New York Times and GitHub repository GreatFire.org.

The attacks, while severe, appear to have taken the heat off leading VPN providers, who were directly attacked in this January. At the time, popular providers including Golden Frog and Astrill recorded deep packet inspection (DPI) of internet traffic to identify VPN protocols, as well as attacks blocking the IP address ranges of several VPN servers.

The attacks appear to have dropped off during the newest DDoS offensive however, with VPN providers claiming that no further attacks of the same degree have taken place since.

“In recent weeks, China appears to have moved on to alternative censorship tactics,” said Sunday Yokubaitis, President of Golden Frog. The company claims their VPN service, VyprVPN, hasn’t experienced additional attacks or outages since.

The shift in strategy from DPI surveillance and IP restriction to DDoS attacks marks a sharp change in course for the Great Firewall. Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying did not deny government involvement in the attack, but suggested that speculation was being unfairly directed at China.

“It is quite odd that every time a website in the US or any other country is under attack, there will be speculation that Chinese hackers are behind it,” Hua said.

GitHub claims its defences are currently holding strong and that its projects are fully operational following the six-day attack that ended on March 31st.

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Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)