PAYBACK? | 2 days before elections, govt websites downed by massive DDoS attacks
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2 - 4:02 p.m.) With only two days before the 2013 midterm elections, several government websites, including that of the Office of the President, were downed by massive denial of service attacks in what appeared to be retaliation for the killing of a Taiwanese fishermen by the Philippine Coast Guard this week.
The death of Hung Shih-cheng, 65, has enraged Taiwanese and raised the possibility of sanctions against the Philippines by Taiwan, which employes an estimated 80,000 Filipinos. But the Coast Guard defended its personnel's actions, saying they were forced to fire in self defense when the Taiwanese fishing vessel Hung was on tried to ram a Philippine patrol vessel.
The Information and Communications Technology Office, in a message to InterAksyon.com, confirmed that there were indeed DDoS attacks on several government websites on Saturday, but could not detail what sites were affected and where the attacks were coming from.
However, on a Chinese bulletin board (http://disp.cc/b/163-5EZX), the purported DDoS attackers posted an online tool that can be launched through a user's browser to effectively target Philippine websites, overwhelming the latter's servers and forcing a downtime.
The online DDoS tool uses a script that loads every target website and automatically refreshes the page to cause a surge in traffic and render the website inaccessible in an operation they called a "keyboard war."
"Think dry dry sense of shame, as the people of Taiwan, instead of looking forward to officially apologize (push to apologize to the diplomatic personnel stationed in Taiwan?)," the attacker's message, loosely translated from Chinese via Google Translate, read.
The goal of the attackers was clear: "To compel the Philippine government to formally apologize to Taiwan, and compensation for the families of the victims." it stressed.
Among the websites that could not be accessed on Saturday were those of the Office of the President (http://op.gov.ph/), Philippine National Police (www.pnp.gov.ph), the Philippine News Agency (http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php), Department of Interior and Local Government (http://www.dilg.gov.ph/) and the Commission on Elections (www.comelec.gov.ph).
A random check of other government sites also found these targetted by the attacks:
- Armed Forces of the Philippines (http://www.afp.mil.ph/)
- Department of Science and Technology (http://www.dost.gov.ph/)
- Philippine Senate (http://www.senate.gov.ph/)
- Department of Education (http://www.deped.gov.ph/)
- Department of Energy (http://www.doe.gov.ph/)
- Department of Foreign Affairs (http://www.dfa.gov.ph/)
- Department of Transportation and Communications (http://www.dotc.gov.ph/)
- Philippine Army (http://www.army.mil.ph/)
A number of private websites, including media, were also reported to have been targetted.
Earlier, the local hacktivist group Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines, which has been involved in major site defacements and DDoS attacks in the past, stressed they will not be launching any hacking operations ahead of the elections.
"Wala pong magaganap na OP ang Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines para sa magaganap na eleksyon ... hindi po kami gagalaw dahil baka sa amin pa po ibintang kapag nagkabukingan na may dayaan (Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines is undertaking no operation for the elections … we will not move because we might be blamed for any fraud that happens)," the group clarified on its Facebook page.
Malacanang had yet to issue a statement on the attacks.
While some of the inaccessible websites have no direct impact on the elections, the downtime of the Comelec website could become crucial as it hosts a wealth of resources related to Monday’s polls, such as the precinct locator and the official results of the elections.