NBI confirms cyber attack on national government portal

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2021 02:33 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2021 02:44 PM

MANILA — The National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday confirmed a cyber attack on the national government's main website, but could not say whether or not the incident was in protest of the recent slay of 9 activists in police raids, which has drawn heavy condemnation. 

The website www.gov.ph experienced a "denial of service attack," said NBI Cybercrime Division chief Victor Lorenzo confirmed. This type of cyber attack makes a website unavailable to users.

Also known as the National Government Portal, gov.ph aims to reduce physical visits for those who need to transact with government. It remained inaccessible as of this posting on Thursday noon. 
 
The NBI is seeking relevant information from the Department of Information and Communications Technology “so we could officially begin [the] investigation,” said Lorenzo. 

“We are confident that we can track down the hackers responsible for the attack kasi may mga previous incident na (because there have been previous incidents),” he said in a press briefing.

Video courtesy of PTV​

The “Cyber PH for Human Rights” group sent an e-mail to the media on Wednesday saying it succeeded in a denial-of-service attack on gov.ph, overwhelming the site with so much traffic that it crashed. 

The group “aims to send a message to President [Rodrigo] Duterte and his government to stop the killing of unarmed civilians,” it said. 

“We come before the public today to stand in solidarity against the worsening human rights situation in the country and to call for justice for the massacre of nine activists, and for countless more unarmed civilians who had lost their lives under this regime,” the group said.

The cyber attack followed the killing of 9 activists in police raids in the Calabarzon region on Sunday, and Duterte's directive on Friday for the police and military to kill armed communist rebels and "ignore human rights." 

Hackers “could easily claim” infiltration of data bases. However, this could be just for “bragging purposes or of course, plain and simple activism,” said Lorenzo.

“We should not take that hook, line and sinker. We have to validate that,” he said of the group's statement. 

The government is monitoring groups that might have been behind cyber attacks last year, Lorenzo said. 

In 2012, “massive attacks” on government websites subsided after the arrest of a “notorious” hacker, he said.