South African news site alleges cyber attack from India after it published a report on PM Modi

South African digital news website Daily Maverick on Wednesday alleged that it had been subject to a cyber attack from India after it published a report that said Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to leave his aircraft because the South African government had “only sent a Cabinet Minister” to receive him.

“I can confirm we have been subject to DDoS attacks from India,” Styli Charalambous, the chief executive officer of Daily Maverick told Scroll.

A Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, is a kind of cyberattack designed to overwhelm a website or its server with a large amount of traffic, making it unavailable to users.

Modi is in South Africa to attend the BRICS summit. The BRICS is a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

On August 22, Tuesday, Daily Maverick reported that after Modi refused to get off the aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa dispatched Deputy President Paul Mashatile to welcome him.

“By contrast, President Cyril Ramaphosa had personally been on the tarmac to greet Chinese President XI Jinping when he arrived on Monday night,” the digital news publication added.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Daily Maverick quoted its security coordinator as saying: “Several hours ago, the site suddenly went down. We picked it up very quickly and started identifying a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. We investigated and found it was coming from a whole host of Indian servers.”

The news site’s Editor-in-Chief, Branko Brkic said: “It was obvious that the purpose of this attack is to deny the people of India access to this story as no attempt was made to hide the source of the attack. This left us with no option but to block the entire domain of India to protect the integrity of the site.”

On Wednesday evening, the office of South Africa’s Deputy President denied the story. A spokesperson told the Indian news channel WION: “Every aspect of what the Daily Maverick reported is a lie”.

“The Deputy President was well aware ahead of time that the Indian PM would be arriving and he would be receiving him. He was there well before the PM landed,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Daily Maverick said in its statement that it stands by the story and “will continue to report on developments”.

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