Unfair to link gov’t to cyberattacks on red-tagged sites

By Azer Parrocha / Philippine News Agency

MANILA – It is “unfair” to link government offices to cyberattacks on the websites of two alternative news organizations and a human rights group, Malacañang said Thursday.


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after a Swedish digital forensics group claimed that the cyberattacks were traced to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Army.


“I don’t know why concluded it is being linked to government,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.


He assured that concerned agencies will investigate the allegations, but at the same time emphasized that it is unreasonable to pin the blame on government offices.


“It is a crime to launch a cyberattack pursuant to the Cyber Crimes Act. It will be investigated and I will reiterate that it is unfair to link government offices to these cyberattacks pending investigation,” he added.


In its report, “Attacks against media in the Philippines continue,” published on Tuesday, Qurium Media Foundation said it recorded “brief but frequent” distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against bulatlat.com, altermidya.org, and karapatan.org.


Qurium found at least five attacks against the three groups — on May 17, 18, 20, and two on June 6.


The Swedish digital forensics group said a machine from the DOST launched the vulnerability scan against Bulatlat. Its IP address “seems to belong to the Philippine Research, Education, and Government Information Network.”


It said the attacker’s IP address is in the edits of the Wikipedia page for “Chief of Army (Philippines)” and many other pages related to the Army.


Army spokesperson Colonel Ramon Zagala said their force does not condone such action against media and underscored that they will never infringe on the freedom of expression.


“The Philippine Army respects freedom of expression and per policy, will never infringe that freedom. We take these accusations 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,” he said in a text message to reporters.


In a separate statement, the DOST denied being responsible for the alleged cyberattack on the said websites.


"The implication of DOST’s involvement in said cyberattacks is unfounded and patently false.," the DOST said in a statement.


It added that as part of its responsibility and mandate in terms of information and communications technology (ICT) management, ASTI is part of a larger government network and ASTI assists other government agencies by allowing the use of some of its IP addresses in the local networks of other government agencies. (PNA)

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