Marking the anniversary of the first ever internet connection in the Philippines, alternative media outifts are fighting back as they filed a civil complaint for damages against two companies found by experts to be the source of the relentless cyber-attacks against their websites.
“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,” Rhea Padilla, AlterMidya – People’s Media Network national coordinator, said.
Since December 2018, the websites of alternative media outfits Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, Pinoy Weekly, and media organizations such as the AlterMidya – People’s Media Network and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines 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.”
Complainants in the case filed today before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court include Bulatlat, Kodao, Pinoy Weekly, and AlterMidya. They were assisted by a team of lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.
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.
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 the 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 both in Hong Kong and in the Philippines.
“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 but can become identifiable in due time. Plaintiffs have reasonable ground to believe that there are more than one of them, each one targeting a particular organization,” the complaint read.
“Launching a cyber-attack with this kind of magnitude and immensity is impossible without the knowledge of the companies. At the very least, they should be held responsible for gross inexcusable negligence. The attacks are continuing despite the fact that it has been reported in the media,” she added.
The alternative media outfits maintained that these relentless cyber-attacks are politically-motivated. They called on the two companies to reveal their real clients or the persons who performed, induced, or orchestrated these vicious cyber-attacks.
“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.
AlterMidya – People’s Media Network