VPN, proxy servers used to attack Bulatlat, 5 other independent news – tech experts

A forensic report by Qurium Media Foundation said that six independent media organizations were subjected to DDoS attacks from 2022 until May 2023.


MANILA — Attackers use virtual private network (VPN) services and proxy infrastructure to carry out distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks against Bulatlat and five other independent media organizations, findings of a Sweden-based digital experts revealed.

In a forensic report, Qurium Media Foundation, a non-profit organization, said that six independent media organizations were subjected to DDoS attacks from 2022 until May 2023.

These include: Bulatlat (Philippines), Nacionale (Kosovo), Kloop (Kyrgyzstan), Peoples Gazette (Nigeria), Somali Journalist Syndicate (Somalia) and Turkmen News (Turkmenistan).

According to Qurium, massive cyber-attacks by at least 20,000 unique IP addresses largely came from US-based ‘ethical proxy provider’ Rayobyte; owned by Sprious LLC, whose infrastructure was similarly used to attack he Kosovoan news site Nacionale back in March 2023.

“The strength of a ‘proxy provider’ is the control over hundreds of thousands of IP addresses that are geolocated to every corner of the world,” said Qurium.

Aside from the proxy server provider, Qurium also identified that the attackers had made use of VPN service providers like PVanish, NordVPN and ExpressVPN to launch similar attacks.

“By gaining access to a pool of such IP addresses for a limited period of time, it is fairly simple to deploy a large DDoS attack that is complex to mitigate due to the huge amount of IP addresses involved,” they added.

Qurium had said that it had mailed the three VPN providers— IPVanish, NordVPN and ExpressVPN reporting that their infrastructure is being used to conduct denial of service attacks, but they received no reply.

“At the time of this writing, no VPN provider has provided any explanation of the events nor the measures that will be taken in the future so their infrastructure is not actively participating in denial of service attacks,” said Qurium.

Attack on truth-tellers

Bulatlat joined five other media organizations from four different countries in denouncing the massive DDoS attacks that were perpetrated over the years.

In a statement, Bulatlat said that from 2022 until May 2023, Qurium recorded 19 attacks using proxy and VPN against Bulatlat, of which five incidents were in the form of DDoS.

“While it is difficult to identify the masterminds behind these attacks, it is certain that the perpetrators abhor independent and critical reporting,” the media outfit added.

Since 2018, Bulatlat has been at the receiving end of multiple state-sponsored cyber-attacks– most of which had been traced and mitigated by Qurium over the years.

Read: Normal browsing, what? PH Army intended to disrupt news sites, curtail free press, IT experts say

“This latest report from Qurium proves that the attackers have been changing tactics and using massive resources with the aim of preventing the truth from coming out,” said Bulatlat.

“Amid the seeming relentless cyber attacks, we persist. Bulatlat thanks our ever reliable web host Qurium for mitigating the cyber attacks for the past four years,” they said, adding: “We stand with our fellow journalists from five other countries who persist in their truth-telling. (JJE, RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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