Cyber attackers on media traced; raps filed in court


By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – Cyber companies allegedly behind the cyber attacks on websites of critical, alternative media have been identified and shall face court actions.

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) fully supports the civil case filed by affiliates in the alternative media against the people and groups identified to be behind the recent cyberattacks against them.

“We stand by them not only because we have chapters in these outfits, we do so because we, ourselves, have been the target of similar cyberattacks and, most of all, because these attacks are clearly part of a pattern,” NUJP said, informing in Naga City

The case filed by Bulatlat, AlterMidya, Kodao Productions, and PinoyWeekly at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court and raffled off to Branch 22 on Friday, March 29, charged the following for allegedly being behind for the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the news outfits:

1. IP Converge Data Services Inc., an information technology firm headquartered at the RCBC Plaza in Makati City, and the following officers: Ernesto Alberto, chairman of the board; Nerissa Ramos, president and CEO; Leo I. Posadas, treasurer; corporate secretary Mark David Martinez; directors Anabelle Chua, Juan Victor Hernandez, and Patrick David R. De Leon; director for technical operations Sherwin Torres; and network support head Cean Archivald Reyes;

2. Suniway Group of Companies Inc., a company that is listed as engaged in construction, including of roads and highways, but also bills itself as a provider of “builder services, web services, support computer software and hardware development” for Filipino and Chinese clients. It is headquartered at the Office Tower Building of SM Aura in Barangay Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, and the following officers: Rolando O. Fernandez, chairman; Rolando O. Fernandez, president; Julia Mae D. Celis, corporate secretary; Mary Ann Recomono, treasurer; and directors Jiang Zongye, and Jiang Xingzhong.

Fittingly, the case was filed on the 25th anniversary of the Internet in the Philippines.

According to the complaint of the alternative news outfits, Qurium Media Foundation, a Swedish nonprofit that provides “technical, infrastructural and human support to media organizations operating in repressive regimes” from which Bulatlat, the first of the outfits to be attacked in late December, sought help, carried out an investigation that “resulted in the discovery of … IP Coverage and Suniway as the sources of attacks.”

Meanwhile, Leo Henrichsen, of the Computer Incident Response Center for Civil Society (CiviCERT), an umbrella organization of digital defenders, contacted IP Converge’s Torres and, later, the firm’s other officers, about the attacks traced to them but received no response.

As for Suniway, Qurium said the server of the attackers’ two IP addresses “shared the same signatures and are being hosted by Defendant Suniway in its office in the Philippines.”

Qurium contacted the National Computer Emergency Response Team about the problem on January 22 but the agency responded only on March 15, and only to ask for more information.

Whichever way the DDoS attacks are seen, one thing is clear, as the complaint points out: “The magnitude, scope and scale of the cyberattacks suggest that they were targeted, deliberate, and organized” and “could not have occurred without being orchestrated and well-funded.”

“This civil action sends a clear message to those who seek to silence the independent Philippine media: Not only will you fail, we will fight back. We will fight back because we cannot allow you to deprive our people of their right to the information they need to chart their individual and collective futures, we cannot allow you to deprive them of their voice. We will fight back because no less than democracy and our basic freedoms are at stake,” NUJP said. []


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