By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation released their internal forensic investigation on the three-month long distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) against several online news outfits in the Philippines, tracing it to a group of Filipino hackers that were earlier hailed by the government’s counterinsurgency arm as “a group of computer geniuses.”
In December 2021, media websites went down consecutively due to targeted DDoS attacks. ABS-CBN, Rappler, and Vera Files all had their online websites shut down and inaccessible to the public for hours.
After these initial attacks, the perpetrator turned their attention to alternative media news outfits such as Bulatlat and Altermidya, as well as human rights group Karapatan.
This prompted Qurium to do their own investigation to find out who was behind these targeted attacks.
On Dec. 17, Qurium compared a sample of the attacks against Rappler with the digital forensic information from the attack against Vera Files and figured out that the perpetrator had used the same attack infrastructure.
After further comparing the pattern against the recorded attacks against ABS-CBN, Qurium found out that the perpetrator had been using a tool that makes the other websites the source of the attack.
The majority of the IP addresses of the attacks were proxies in the USA, China, Germany, Indonesia, Russia, and Vietnam.
When Rappler and ABS-CBN once again underwent a new series of DDoS attacks on Dec. 23, 2021, Qurium saw that a Facebook page called “Pinoy Vendetta” had claimed the attack was allegedly carried out by one of their members “Abdul.”
The attack lasted for three hours and managed to flood the websites with traffic that had peaked at a million requests per second.
According to Qurium’s findings, Pinoy Vendetta has been actively promoting online resources to conduct DDoS attacks using their Facebook page since November 2021. They have also been using their page to document each attack they launch.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) had also lauded and encouraged Pinoy Vendetta’s continued online attacks, even going as far as to refer to the page as “a group of computer geniuses.”
Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy has also openly shown support to Pinoy Vendetta’s use of Denial of Service attacks and even publicly posted about it on her official Facebook account.
In a statement, Bulatlat condemned the attacks and said that they are enraged that the NTF-ELCAC had applauded such cybercrimes against the Philippine media.
“At a time when the role of media organizations is crucial, such online attacks are even more deplorable,” said Bulatlat.