Cyber-attacks Hit Bulatlat Anew

Screengrab from Bulatlat’s Facebook account.

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Cyber-attacks hit alternative news site starting 19 January 2019, bringing the website down for several days and forcing the media organization to move the website to a more secure host.

On January 25, Bulatlat announced through social media that “a ‘crazy amount’ of attacks ha(s) been launched to bring down one of the country’s longest running news websites.”

It tapped Qurium Media Foundation, a Sweden-based group of digital forensic investigation experts, for assistance and moved the website to for secure hosting. Qurium has since been monitoring and posting updates on its website. It said has been “under attack from the 19th of January 2019. The attackers first attacked the front-end, hosted with Cloudflare, and later on they directed the attack to the backend.”

Bulatlat’s new webhost was able to mitigate the attacks, and the news site has been accessible since January 26.

But the Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attack, Qurium said, increased on January 26, with the attackers using 1,100 compromised computers to flood the website with requests. It was still detecting attacks to the site as of January 31 as early as 3:20 a.m. and noted that “‘flooders’ were taking turns and disengaging” after 30 minutes to one hour of activity.

In a press release, Qurium said that “While the cyber-attacks have intensified, no one has claimed the attacks and explained why they are attacking this medium.” It said Ronalyn Olea, managing editor of Bulatlat, believes that the aggression is politically-motivated, the website being critical of the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations of the Duterte administration.

Last December 2018, Bulatlat and other alternative media websites also experienced cyber-attacks that made their websites inaccessible. (see related Alert: “Alternative News Sites Down in Cyber-attack”)