PHILIPPINES: Hackers Tip Black Hat to Aquino

MARY GRACE COSTA WRITES – Political disputes used to be settled with swords and guns, but in the Information Age, the cyber world is the new battlefield of choice.

A hacker group known as Global Security seized control of the website of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on June 12, coinciding with the island nation’s 117th Independence Day. As Filipinos celebrated their independence, some also chose to celebrate free expression, albeit pushing the limit.

The NHCP is a sect of the Philippine government whose mission is “the promotion of Philippine history and cultural heritage.” Their website has more detailed information about the Commission’s vision, mission, projects, annual reports and other relevant literature. On Friday, June 12, however, the usual webpage was replaced by white text on a black background spelling out a message to Philippine president, Benigno Aquino III.

The ominous message asks the president a series of rhetorical questions, asking whether or not he believes he has done enough to end corruption and spread justice in his five years as president. They especially referenced the 44 fallen members of the SAF last January.

“We are watching you ’til the very end of your term,” the message reads.

The Palace of the President released a statement the following morning condemning the cyber crime, saying “the right of a citizen to ask his or her government what is being done on a matter needs to be expressed within the limits provided by the constitution.”

The University of San Tomas in Philippines was also recently hacked by Chinese hackers in response to a dispute over the South China Sea. The Internet is a useful tool for hunting and gathering information and making connections, but the string of high-profile cyber attacks on South East Asian government websites shows that the Internet can also be used as a weapon.

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