The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Army are prime suspects in the series of cyberattacks against the websites of two alternative news organizations and the human rights group Karapatan, a report from a Swedish digital forensic group said.
The report, “Attacks against media in the Philippines continue,” by Qurium Media Foundation said it recorded “brief but frequent” distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against the following websites: bulatlat.com; altermidya.org; and karapatan.org.
The three websites have been red-tagged or linked to the Philippine underground communist movement by the security apparatus of the Duterte administration.
Bulatlat said these were “politically motivated and state-sponsored” attacks and that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict had “consistently labeled us as communist fronts for pursuing journalism for the people.”
For its part, Karapatan said the attacks were conducted by “cowards” who “hide behind the online cloak of anonymity.”
A DDOS attack usually involving overloading the machines or resources with requests to overwhelm the host and disrupt its services, which makes the websites hard to access or even inaccessible.
Qurium uncovered at least five simultaneous attacks against the three groups on May 17, May 18, May 20, and two on June 6, indicating these were well-organized, adding that “one machine from the Department of Science and Technology” (DOST) launched the vulnerability scan that identified its internet protocol (IP) address as 126.96.36.199.
“The IP seems to belong to the Philippine Research, Education, Government Information Network,” Qurium said. The network a unit under the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the DOST that has its offices at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in Quezon City.
Qurium said another unit in the same IP address was registered to the email email@example.com that is an official email under the Philippine Army.
Col. Ramon Zagala said the Philippine Army said it is taking the cyberattack allegations seriously.
“We take these accusation of cyberattack seriously and we will not condone or tolerate it if such occurred against media entities. Rest assured we are servants of the people and protector of freedom of expression,” Zagala said.