DICT unit confirms AFP link to cyberattacks against alternative media

CMFR/PHILIPPINES — On September 23, 2021, AlterMidya and Bulatlat, two media sites that were under cyber attack, published the contents of a report from the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-PH) of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) which confirmed findings that the source of the attacks was  the Philippine Army. 

Non-profit Qurium Media Foundation originally reported “brief but frequent distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks” against Bulatlat and Altermidya, and the human rights group Karapatan in June 2021. Quirium Media traced computer networks from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Army. 

Qurium and the targeted sites reported the attacks to CERT-PH, the highest government body for cybersecurity related activities.

CERT-PH later made the confirmation – through a confidential report dated August 11, according to the targeted sites – that the IP address Qurium found in the attack log was assigned to the AFP.

According to AlterMidya and Bulatlat’s joint statement, “CERT-PH called DOST, and confirmed the IP was assigned to the Philippine Army. This IP was also seen in the provided log file by bulatlat/altermidya which is 202.90.137[.].42.”

“CERT-PH validated what we already know from the forensic investigation by our hosting provider, Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation. When we published Qurium’s findings in June, the Armed Forces of the Philippines feigned ignorance, and issued a statement claiming that the institution upholds press freedom,” their statement read.

Apart from the joint statement from AlterMidya and Bulatlat, media outfits InterAksyon, Rappler, and Philippine Daily Inquirer also published news reports on the said attacks. 

This is not the first time the alternative media outlets have been attacked; their websites were also brought down in December 2018 and January 2019, in what is a concerted assault on press freedom, free xpression, and the people’s right to information.