Monday, May 14, 2012

Gov’t websites, private firms endure 30-hour cyber attack — source

MANILA,Phiippines — A number of websites owned by the government and private firms have come under intense Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attacks for 30 hours on Monday, suggesting possible attempts to cripple online services given out by these institutions.
The agencies and companies that endured the attack are all part of the Philippine Research, Education, and Government Network (PREGINET), an association of private- and public-sector entities acting as a research and education network in the country.

“Since yesterday (Sunday), we were under attack (Denial of Service) from a server located abroad,” stated an email sent out to PREGINET members on Monday, a copy of which was obtained by “We have already coordinated with the web hosting company that was sourcing the attack and we are awaiting on details from them.”

DDoS is a form of cyber attack used by hacking groups to take down particular websites involving the act of overwhelming the website’s server by executing external commands from a number of terminals, which tend to cripple the server indefinitely.

The email, however, did not identify where the attacks were coming from, nor did it enumerate which websites were affected by the attacks. 

Members of PREGINET include the Office of the President, the House of Representatives, the Department of Science and Technology, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines, among others.

According to a reliable source, the perpetrators launched a DDoS attack from a Tier-3 data center located abroad, which they infiltrated, enabling them to initiate attacks of an unprecedented scale against Philippine-based websites.

A Tier-3 data center means the facility has been certified to have redundant components, dual-powered equipment and multiple uplinks, giving them as much as 99.982 percent of guaranteed availability.

The source said no notable damage or downtime were incurred by the PREGINET websites, except that connections to the web properties have been sluggish throughout the duration of the attacks.

From a US server but not from a US national

According to Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) Executive Director Louis Casambre, the attack has already been dealt with by the government’s “overseas partners,” and confirmed that the attacks came from a breached server located in the United States.

“However, evidence suggests that it may not have been caused by a US national,” Casambre told via email. “No sites subject to these attacks were breached; however, the traffic caused may be considered significant so the matter is not being taken lightly.”

Government websites have come under hacking attacks in the past several weeks, arising from the ongoing standoff between China and the Philippines regarding Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, a disputed territory just West of Luzon.

Among the most notable government websites defaced by suspected hackers from China include the web properties of Malacanang’s Communications Group; the Department of Budget and Management; the country’s weather bureau; the Philippine News Agency; and the University of the Philippines.

The hackers were also able to infiltrate the Web systems of private entities such as the news website and the educational institution Colegio de San Agustin.

In all of the defacements, the hackers emphasized that the disputed territory belongs to China and not the Philippines, as evidenced by its nine-dash line claim.

The ICTO had already ordered government agencies to re-evaluate the security measures implemented in their respective IT systems, in light of the successful breaches incurred by other public-sector agency websites.

Patrick Villavicencio | | May 14, 2012 | Article Link

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