By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Alternative media outfits identified two companies where the intense cyber attacks against them since December are coming from.
Bulatlat, Kodao, and Pinoy Weekly, as well as the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya) filed a civil complaint at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court this morning against IP Converge Data Services, Inc. and Suniway Group of Companies they believe are where the cyber-attacks are coming from.
“Through the solid and thorough digital forensic investigation of Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation over time, it was discovered that the cyber-attacks were coming from companies IP Converge and Suniway,” Altermidya national coordinator Rhea Padilla said.
According to their respective websites, IP Converge Data Services, Inc. is the country’s first cloud services provider while Suniway is an internet services provider.
Exposed IP addresses
Padilla said the digital forensic report revealed that despite hiding behind a Virtual Private Network (VPN), one of the attackers exposed their real IP addresses when they accessed the website without turning on their hidden IPs.
In another instance, one of the attackers also revealed his IP address when he used his Samsung Android phone to check the websites of alternative media groups under attack.
The exposed IP addresses, she added, may easily be traced to IP Converge based on the findings of Qurium.
Meanwhile, Qurium learned that the infrastructure of networks being used to launch the attacks belongs to Suniway, which holds business addresses both in Hong Kong and in the Philippines with two Chinese national listed as among its officers.
“The user agents who conducted the attacks using devices within the premises and under the control and supervision of Defendants IP Converge and Suniway are unidentified at this point,” their complaint said.
Padilla said their civil complaint against cyber-attackers is the first ever in the Philippines.
“This is definitely a first and it will serve as a testament that we will neither be cowed nor will we allow these cyber-attacks to continue,” Padilla said.
The complainants were assisted by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.
Since December 2018, alternative media sites have been subjected to sustained cyber-attacks in the form of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
DDoS refers to the malicious attempt to overload the server of a website, aimed to shut it down.
Padilla said this kind of attack “denies legitimate readers of access to truthful reports.”
“Plaintiffs have reasonable ground to believe that there are more than one of them, each one targeting a particular organization,” their complaint said.
Padilla added that launching a cyber-attack with this kind of magnitude and immensity is impossible without the knowledge of the companies.
The alternative media outfits maintained that these relentless cyber-attacks are politically-motivated.
They called on the two companies to reveal their real clients.
“We believe these attacks are state-sponsored and are part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to stifle press freedom in the country. It seems cyber censorship is one of the administration’s tactics to make way for an open dictatorial rule,” Padilla said.
The filing of the complaint coincided with the 25th anniversary of the internet in the Philippines.
In March 29, 1994, the first ever internet message were sent between the University of San Carlos in Cebu City and Syracuse University in New York. (Kodao.org)