Cybercriminals targeted the Times of Malta website on Tuesday morning, flooding its servers with millions of requests within a short span of time.

No source has been identified in the attack, which is unprecedented for Malta's largest website. 

The attack, known as a Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, began at roughly 6am and was brought under control at around 9.30am.

At its peak, the DDoS overloaded Times of Malta servers and breached existing protections in place, causing the website to go offline for most of our readers for a 45-minute period.

The attack was a purely external one and no data breach is suspected.

“The attack lasted several hours but thanks to our tech team’s work to mitigate it, end users were only impacted for a brief period,” Times of Malta online editor Bertrand Borg said.

Times of Malta has now introduced additional layers of protection to guard against a repeat attack. IT teams are continuously monitoring website traffic to take further action should that be necessary.

“We’re keeping mitigation measures in place for now,” Borg said.

“That means browsing our site may be a bit slower than usual. Users might also notice an unusual Cloudflare screen appear when accessing our site. That is simply an additional protective check, to make it harder for attackers to flood our servers. We apologise for the inconvenience.”

Times of Malta has reported the cyberattack to the police, who are investigating.

DDoS attacks seek to disrupt website traffic by overwhelming servers with access requests. They are one of the most common types of cyberattacks.

Cybercriminals take control of compromised computer systems anywhere in the world and direct them to storm their target. The result is a server overload, much like a road becoming gridlocked when multiple cars all enter it at the same time.

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