Media groups cry foul over ‘vicious cyberattacks’
Groups offering themselves as alternative media have filed a civil complaint for damages before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court against those responsible for the “vicious cyberattacks” on their websites.
The complainants—Bulatlat, Altermidya, Kodao and Pinoy Weekly—identified the IP Converge Data Services Inc. and Suniway Group of Companies as those behind the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against them since December.
The complaint filed on Friday identified IP Converge Data Services as the country’s first cloud services provider while Suniway as an internet services provider, which has business addresses in Hong Kong and in the Philippines with two Chinese nationals listed as among its officers.
“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,” the complaint stated.
A DDoS attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.
The first attacks against the alternative news websites were observed in December 2018 and peaked on Jan. 19 to 31.
On Feb. 4, information technology experts from Sweden-based company Qurium noted a second wave of attacks.
Bulatlat, for instance, was exposed to 40,000 times the normal traffic it receives, measured at 5 gigabytes per second (GBps).
Qurium says a 1-GBps DDoS attack is enough to take most organizations offline.
Journalism professor and Bulatlat associate editor Danilo Arao said the cyberattacks could be state-sponsored, similar to harassment and intimidation against Rappler and other news media organizations “deemed critical of the Duterte administration.”
“Intensified DDoS attacks were observed to have happened at a time when we reported on controversial stories like the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the release of a peace consultant and the cold-blooded murder of another peace consultant,” said Arao.
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