Baidu: Page not Found

Written by Julen Madariaga on January 12th, 2010

Wow. has been hacked this morning around 9:30 and is just back on at 3pm. More than 5:30 hours downtime.

Worst of all, they have no way to hide it was a hack, even the People’s Daily published the picture. Perhaps the party media does not consider websites as part of China’s glorious industry and it is not concerned with covering up. Not like they could have hidden it anyway, but I find it interesting that they didn’t try:


This reminds me of yesterday’s article on Caixin, coincidentally titled: Page Not Found. It explains the very unusual situation of a Chinese internet  industry that is averse to innovation.

But in addition to the domestic environment’s impact, rottenness inside the industry deserves some blame for the crisis. Whirlwind development led to stories of overnight riches, which in turn attracted a significant number of unqualified entrepreneurs with questionable motives. The industry now looks at innovation as risky, while copycats seek instant success with online games, cheap content and plagiarism. They exploit regulatory loopholes or do business in the economy’s gray zone.

I don’t want to read too much into a simple incident, but it is kind of a big deal in the first Chinese Nasdaq company, a website ranked N1 in China and N8 in the World. I can’t help feeling that Baidu have been too long sitting on their cozy market share and government protection, selling search results or luring in users with copyrighted mp3 for download. Instead of innovating and improving their security.

To be sure, Baidu also brings out some new stuff once in a while, and I quite like the Baidupedia to look up Chinese things. But when you compare with Facebook, Twitter or Google, you see those companies are constantly taking risks to try out new ideas, while Chinese sites tend to sit around and copy. I mean, surely you can’t run an internet company like you are running a steel mill?

Just a coincidence, probably, but the COO of Baidu stepped down yesterday “for personal reasons”.

H/T Danwei and CDT.

UPDATE: It is 7pm and is still on and off. The rest of the services, baike, mp3, etc. all work properly and can be accessed through, but the main page is down at this moment.  Downtime close to 10 hours already.

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Comments so far ↓

  1. Jan

    Baidu was hit by a domain name hijack. This is more like old school social engineering hacking than a security issue so I’m not sure I really buy your assertion that concentrating on security would have helped.

    The weakness here isn’t so much the domain owners as the registrars. I myself use and they’re a very large outfit with a high degree of automation of transfers which leaves itself more open to this sort of thing. Although I don’t disagree on the point about innovation, it’s really quite sad to see how big Chinese sites like kaixin001 etc are blatant rip-offs of the original English-language sites.

    This, I think, is rather more interesting:

    [Reply to this comment]

    Uln Reply:

    Yes, I wrote the blog a bit fast because it was breaking news. Since then I have been googling for this and seen that very similar attacks happened to Twitter and Google before, they said they were DNS attacks or redirect attacks, and similarly claimed that no security issue was involved. However, security in the broad sense is to ensure that a hacker cannot stop the service of baidu, and also to reassure the users that their data is secure. Whatever the technical reality of the attack, in these 2 main points baidu was seriously hit.

    Anyway, I agree the conclusions I draw are not necessarily warranted from this single attack. It is just that coincidentally I was reading the article “Page not Found”, and the temptation to connect the 2 events was too irresistible.

    But enough of this, let’s turn our eyes to the exciting Google newsd and WTF is going on with that now, thanks for the link!

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Jan

    What about the CTO.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Uln Reply:

    What with the CTO? Any news about him? Links?

    [Reply to this comment]

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