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Conflict with China eyed in PCG website hacking attempt | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker | #hacking | #aihp

MANILA, Philippines — The alleged cyberattack attempt on the website of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) might be connected to the ongoing conflict over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

PCG spokesman Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said yesterday that he is not discounting the possibility that the reported alleged attempt to hack their website could be connected to the WPS issue. 

He admitted that it was the first time that there was an attempt to hack the PCG website. 

“We cannot really confirm if the hacking was related to the West Philippine Sea, but it is possible. But it is also possible that this was done by the usual hackers,” said Balilo. 

Based on the investigation conducted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the hackers were reportedly from China Unicom, a Chinese state-owned telecommunications company.

However, DICT could not yet conclude if the Chinese government was involved in the cyberattack. 

The Philippines has been in conflict with China over the WPS. Last year, there had been several reports of alleged aggressions of Chinese vessels against the PCG and boats commissioned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during rotation and resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre aground at Ayungin Shoal.

At the moment, Balilo said they could not speculate on the individual or group behind the cyberattack. 

It was last month when he was informed by the DICT about the alleged attempt to break into their website. 

“A DICT personnel inquired if we monitored any attempt to hack our website, but so far we have not monitored anything. Our website remains secure.” The PCG-Public Information Office, headed by Balilo, is the administrator of the agency’s website. 

The Coast Guard official said he was not alarmed by the news, but they would be exercising vigilance and taking precautionary measures.

“We will exercise measures to ensure that the website is secure, that there is enough firewall to prevent it from being infiltrated by hackers,” he said. 

“While the website is for public consumption, we do not want hackers to pollute our site with their fake news and make it appear that we authored the fake news. We also have to protect the site from computer viruses,” Balilo added.

Hacking attempt ‘alarming’ – Poe

Government agencies should explore fortifying their websites, Sen. Grace Poe said, and that “the fresh attempt to hack a government website is alarming and outraging.”

“While the DICT foiled the intrusion try, the recent incident was a stark reminder that cyberattacks have become bolder and more relentless,” the senator added.

She said concerned government agencies should take a cue from the findings of the DICT on the suspected source of threat actors on our privacy and security.

“Fortifying website firewall and systems should be the task of all agencies maintaining an online presence,” Poe said. “All means should be explored to keep the people’s data secure and uncompromised.”

Jeffrey Ian Dy, DICT undersecretary for connectivity, cybersecurity and upskilling, said one of these cyberattacks attempted to take down the website of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration about three weeks ago. — Cecille Suerte Felipe

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