MANILA, Philippines - Hours after Malacañang made a call to secure websites of government agencies, the website of the municipal government of Hagonoy town of Bulacan province was hacked and defaced on Monday.
It was the third hacking case reported after the hostage-taking incident last August 23 when 9 people were killed, including 8 Hong Kong tourists.
The Chinese flag and Chinese characters were splashed on a new page placed in the Hagonoy’s website, which, in one rough translation, the text said: "Do not underestimate our pain ... Hackers from China by custom group F.M.T.” The defaced page also opens with a dialog box saying, "You make me angry."
As of posting time, however, the local government’s website's original home page had already been restored.
Aside from fending off criticisms about the botched rescue, the government is also now busy securing the websites of government agencies.
"We are alerting all government agencies to review and improve security of their websites in view of the hacking of the website this afternoon," said Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma.
Coloma made the statement after the website of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the government's main information agency, was hacked and defaced over the weekend.
The PIA’s homepage was replaced with a new page with a black background containing the message, "Hacked by 7z1", and the signature "Black Matrix Team | 0x.oday@Gmail.com".
The PIA website was eventually restored Sunday evening.
On August 26, the website of the Philippine National Police was “overwhelmed” and was shut down for several hours. Police investigation showed the attack was conducted by so-called “hactivists” from various countries who logged on to the national police’s website at the same time, causing it to become inaccessible.
Chief Inspector Felizardo Eubra of the Web Services and Cyber Technology Division, the anti-hacking unit of the Directorate for Information and Communications Technology Management (DICTM), said initial tracing of the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses showed that users from various countries logged on to the website simultaneously.
On Friday, the official website of the Bulacan provincial government was hacked by a group claiming to be hackers from China and Malaysia.
In a page inserted in the Bulacan website, the hackers demanded an apology from the Philippines for the Manila hostage crisis.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Monday said the websites of the government agencies hit by hackers were not secure.
“The fact that the websites have been hacked shows they were not secure,” said Lacierda.
"We are adopting best practices to lessen the vulnerability of our websites to hacking and other cyber crimes," Coloma said.
Meanwhile, government officials would not confirm if the hackers who defaced the websites of government agencies were from Hong Kong and China.
Lacierda said it was also possible that the hacking may have been done by hackers from the Philippines.
“Kung sakali, and I’m saying kung sakali, gawa ito ng Pilipino, napaka-iresponsable naman nila. Huwag naman sana nila gawin iyon. Huwag naman sana nila i-escalate iyong otherwise na hopefully nagiging normal na atmosphere ngayon,” Lacierda said.
President Benigno Aquino III's personal Facebook account, which is linked to his official web site, has also been flooded by hate messages over the incident, with many coming from disgruntled Hong Kong residents accusing the Philippine police force of incompetence.
Aquino censored his Facebook page after Internet users ignored his appeal to stop bashing his government over its handling of the hostage crisis, banning slanderous and defamatory comments and posts.
Coloma said only slanderous postings and profanities were erased from the Facebook page.
"But those expressing their feelings -- even if they are negative -- are not being erased from the website because cyberspace should be democratic and different views are permitted," he said.
On Monday afternoon, however, Aquino’s Multiply site was again hit by multiple comments of expletives. The comments had been removed, as of posting. With reports from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Press, and the Philippine Star