With the escalation of hostilities between Chinese and Filipino hackers in cyberspace, the Philippine government has released a statement on Tuesday saying it is “not condoning nor encouraging” the retaliatory attacks by local hacker groups.
The Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (ICTO-DOST) said the counter-attacks would only aggravate the situation.
“We understand the concern of our local hacker community on this issue. [H]owever, exchanges such as this one will not benefit anyone and could lead to bigger problems in the future for both countries concerned and could escalate the already tense situation in Panatag Shoal,” said Louis Casambre, executive director of ICTO.
According to DOST Secretary Mario Montejo: “These alleged hacking and counter-hacking activities are unsanctioned by either governments and is basically a reflection of what citizens of either country feel about the situation. It is our job in government to seek diplomatic solutions to these issues and not let these things get out of hand.”
Chinese and Filipino hackers have waged a vicious battle in cyberspace in the last couple of days as both countries staked their claims on what is known internationally as Scarborough Shoal in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
China-based hackers were first to strike when it hit the website of the University of the Philippines on Saturday, April 21. Filipino hackers then launched a retaliatory assault on Chinese sites the following day, Sunday.
On Monday, distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks on gov.ph were detected from China but were promptly blocked by government IT administrators. Access latency on several government websites were also evident as a result of the DDOS attacks.
The hacking of the UP website exposed the vulnerabilities of some government sites and the need for more stringent cybersecurity standards, DOST officials said.
“Along with the Cybercrime Bill that is currently undergoing bicameral review, the DOST-ICTO in cooperation with the Office of the President is at the final stages of developing an Executive Order creating a top level body which will spearhead government efforts on cybercrime and cybersecurity, and will strengthen the necessary coordination and implementation of uniform security standards in government,” Casambre added.