Hackers of ‘unknown origin’ continue cyberwar over Panatag
While the government presses for a diplomatic solution to its territorial dispute with China, the conflict continues to spill to cyberspace.
This week, the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) instructed government agencies to tighten security on their websites in the light of hack attacks traced to foreign sources, including supporters of China in the dispute with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal.
The government, however, also condemned cyberattacks by Filipinos on Chinese websites, saying retaliation could only worsen the conflict.
On Wednesday, hackers “of still undetermined origin” struck the website of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph. As a result, Pagasa suspended delivery of weather information to online users.
The website was restored after about three hours, the DOST’s Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) said.
The ICTO said the weather bureau’s website had its own Web servers and “not hosted on the DOST’s secure servers.”
“The recent defacement of the Pagasa website only illustrates the patent vulnerabilities inherent on some Web platforms,” ICTO Executive Director Louis Casambre said.
“We would like to request system administrators of government websites to review their source code for these security flaws,” he said.
Earlier, still unknown hackers vandalized the websites of the Department of Budget and Management and the University of the Philippines.
The hackers left a map of China on the UP home page with the declaration: “We are from China! Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) is ours!”
The ICTO advised administrators of government websites to move their sites to more secure servers. Several government websites have been hacked in recent years.
“Government websites are potential high-profile targets for local and foreign hackers,” Science Secretary Mario Montejo said in a statement. “Thus, government system administrators must take the extra effort to ensure that their servers are safe from cyber vandalism.”
Social media users have also protested against China, posting both serious and funny digs at the Chinese claim over Scarborough Shoal.
One post on Facebook showed a “letter” to China from the Philippines that read: “Dear China, pakikuha na rin ang Pacific Ocean. Hiyang-hiya na kami sa inyo.”
Another post showed the proximity of Scarborough Shoal (also called Panatag Shoal by Manila) to the Philippine coastline, proving that it is Philippine territory.