China’s largest search engine, Baidu.com, confirmed that its website was paralysed on Tuesday morning after coming under a cyber-attack. The search engine has now resumed operation.

“The reason why Chinese users could not log on to the website was that our domain name server (DNS) in the United States was illegally attacked,” it said in a statement that gave no details of the attack.

The company said it was still investigating the problem, and declined to give further information.

Problems were found at around 8 a.m. The website reopened at 11:30 a.m.

“It is rare for Baidu.com to be down for so long as the company boasts high security protection,” said Li Tiejun, an IT security engineer of Beijing Kingsoft.

The search engine, which claims 70 per cent of China’s Internet search market, had only been down only once previously, for half an hour in December 2006.