Investigation ongoing: DOST won't name agency linked to media cyberattacks

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2021 06:05 PM

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MANILA — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Thursday admitted it provided the IP address linked to the cyberattacks against 2 alternative news websites, but stopped short of naming the agency it was assigned to, citing an ongoing investigation by another government agency.

"We'd rather not put any added burden to the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) in undertaking the investigation. We would prefer that they do it properly and clinically without the involvement of the public," Rowena Guevara, DOST's Undersecretary for Research and Development, told ANC. 

Qurium Media Foundation, a Sweden based digital rights group, last week found out a DOST machine and an Army-linked IP address were behind the series of attacks against websites bulatlat.com, altermidya.org, as well as karapatan.org.

Denying hand in the attack, DOST earlier explained part of its mandate was to "assist other government agencies by allowing the use of some of its IP addresses in the local networks of other government agencies."

The DOST added it has remedies in case shepherds of government-provided assets violate their "acceptable usage" policy.

"There's a lot. One simple remedy is the removal of IP addresses assigned. That is the easiest thing to do," Guevara said. 

"When we issue the IP addresses, we assume the agency... will do the protection necessary and will adhere to standards and acceptable usage policies within the network... We ask them to sign the acceptable use policy and we expect them to adhere," she added.

Asked for comment about the cyberattacks on Bulatlat and Altermidya, Guevara said: "Our position in general is that any attack on any IP address that is malicious is not acceptable."

However, she said they expect government, media organizations, and the private sector to protect their own servers against any attacks. 

"The responsibility of protecting internet networks lies primarily on the owner of these servers."

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said they have filed House Resolution 1918 to investigate the "state-sanctioned" cyberattacks against media entities.

"I think it is pretty obvious that these cyberattacks are really state-sanctioned, and that the regime has a policy of attacking critical media. I don't think that their denial would be acceptable at this point," he said.

The Philippine Army has said it would "look into" the matter but added it "respects freedom of expression and per policy, will never infringe [on] that freedom."

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