Cyber Attacks On Critical Media

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
and the Canada Fund for Local Initiative in cooperation with Bulatlat Multimedia, held an

Awareness Campaign Seminar on Cyber Attacks on Critical Media and Legal Remedies
26 February 2019
Annabels Restaurant Q.C.

with Inday Espina-Varona, Danilo Arao, Frank Lloyd Tiongson, Edre Olalia, Grace Saguinsin Rhea DS Padilla

Photos by Lito Ocampo


Published February 26, 2019, 6:27 PM Manila Bulletin
By Hanah Tabios

Following the continuous cyber attacks against some critical media entities, a professor from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communication said that there was a reason to believe that these acts were state-sponsored.

This, after several alternative press websites, were subjected to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which deprive legitimate users the right to access online information, according to Prof. Danilo Arao. “Basically there were intense DDoS attacks.

The keyword here is intense why because if you ask us or any of the alternative media, we have something in common. We cannot detect the first day that the DDoS attacks actually happened. We just learned quite recently that there were intensified attacks because the websites have either become slower or they have been shut down altogether,” he said.

Content delivery network service Cloudfare defined DDoS as “a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic of a targeted server by overwhelming the target with a flood of Internet traffic.” Arao presented the names of news organizations, as well as media groups, that have been targeted during the awareness campaign seminar in Quezon City on Tuesday. These include: – Bulatlat Multimedia – Pinoy Weekly – Kodao Productions – Manila Today – Arkibong Bayan – Davao Today – AlterMidya – National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)

Even cause-oriented groups Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and Karapatan were not spared. “But what is common among any of the websites is that the intense attacks started in December 2018. And then there was some sort of a ceasefire during the first two weeks of January and then they resume the attacks,” he added.

Citing the attacks’ political timing, Arao, who is also a member of Bulalat’s Board of Editors, shared that it began during the alternative press’ coverage on the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the rebel group which President Rodrigo Duterte would want to ‘destroy’. He further cited some dates in relation to the major attacks experienced by these websites: – January 19, 2019-coverage of minimum age criminal requirement (MACR) issue and release of peace consultant Rafael Baylosis; and – February 1-4, 2019-continued coverage of circumstances behind the January 30, 2019 killing of peace consultant Randy Malayao.

Although, they have already sought help from Swedish-based non-government organization Qurium Media Foundation in mitigating the online storm, Arao stressed that these attacks still continue as alternative media continues with reporting people’s issues, primarily the controversial ones. In fact, he said that perpetrators share the same attack signatures or ID addresses and Qurium has also been victimized. Veteran journalist Inday Varona-Espina, who was among the panel, added that attacks such as internet libel, among other forms of harassment against journalists, is also a serious challenge the Philippine media has been facing. “The media does not operate in a vacuum. What happens to us is often a reflection of what’s happening to society,” she pointed out.

From: Manila Bulletin