Along with the tension in Scarborough Shoal, one of the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea, comes the web hacking attacks from China to the Philippines and vice versa.
What started this online wreckage was the defacement of the University of the Philippines (UP) website by hackers concerned with China’s claim of the said area which they call Huangyan Islands. Days after, several Philippine government websites were reportedly attacked by hackers coming from China too.
Consequently, Filipino hacking groups namely Private X and Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines, allegedly committed revenge by promoting the cause of Philippine sovereignty on the area against China websites in a hacking operation they dubbed as #OpChinaDown. The groups posted that this operation is merely a response to the initial attack made by hackers on the UP website.
“We are not trying to start anything. We are just trying to tell you that we do not want to be bullied in our own cyberspace too,” the group’s message read.
Now, the concerned institutions have aired out their call to end the said counter attacks made by Filipino hacker groups.
Separate statements by UP and the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) said the attacks must stop since they do little to help lessen the tension in Scarborough Shoal.
“Hacking selected websites at the suspected country of the hacker or hackers does not objectively articulate any political issue and only subjectively fulfills a personal desire to ‘get even’,” said UP President Alfredo Pascual.
DOST-ICTO Executive Director Louis Casambre said that the Philippine government does not support hacking of any website and must be stopped immediately.
“We understand the concern of our local hacker community on this issue. However, exchanges such as this one will not benefit anyone and could possibly lead to bigger problems in the future for the Philippines and China and escalate the already tense situation at Panatag Shoal,” Casambre said.
This cyberhacking war has also pushed network administrators to exert more effort in securing their websites as it exposed the vulnerability of some government sites.
Casambre noted that along with the cybercrime bill currently undergoing legislative review at both chambers of Congress, the DOST-ICTO is working closely with the Office of the President in drafting an Executive Order to establish a top-level body to spearhead government’s efforts on cybercrime and cybersecurity.