By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — A group of Filipino journalists has assailed the series of cyber-attacks targeting the Philippine media and called on government agencies to investigate and stop these attacks.
In its statement, ABS-CBN said their news website was shut down on Dec. 11, and became inaccessible to their readers at 10:30 a.m. The news network confirmed that it was a distributed denial of service attack, which lasted for almost six hours.
DDoS refers to the flooding of a website server until it becomes inaccessible to its readers.
Four days later, online news Rappler said the website was also subjected to a DDoS attack, and that it shut down their website for two hours. Later in the evening, at 9:56 p.m., their website had already received over six million requests. At the peak of the attack, the site had reportedly received over 650,000 requests per second. Rappler also mentioned that 95 percent of the requests barraging their site were targeting the recently published story on the Senate’s approval of the bill which allowed 100% foreign ownership of public utility services.
Among the latest was that of Vera Files, an independent media known for its fact-checking arm, which was subjected to DDoS on Dec. 16.
In a report, Vera Files said their website security service recorded “almost 4,000 of unique IP addresses issued more than 70 million” against them.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the consecutive attacks on media, and said in their statement that these attacks continue to happen amid the urgent need for information as the country is faced with Typhoon Odette.
“NUJP stands with colleagues under cyber-attack and is ready to work with them to document, trace and hold the perpetrators accountable,” the group said.
This is not the first time that news agencies have been subjected to cyber-attacks.
Last month, alternative news Pinoy Weekly has been subjected to another wave of cyberattacks, leading to the shutdown of their website for almost two days.
Pinoy Weekly, Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, and AlterMidya – People’s Alternative Media Network have been subjected to relentless cyberattacks since 2018. This year, Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation was able to trace the attacks to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Army.
“That these attacks are happening as we near the elections — when vetted information will be crucial in addressing disinformation, misinformation, and political rhetoric — is the most concerning of all,” NUJP said. (JJE, RVO)