Attacks on PH alternative news websites worry media groups

Two media have expressed concern over the sustained efforts against press freedom in the country, following attacks on Philippine news this week.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) slammed the series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks since January aimed at bringing down the news website Bulatlat (www.bulatlat.com).

A DDoS is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.

Beyond normal traffic

The first series of attacks occured on Jan. 19 to 31. The second wave, which also targeted the alternative news site Kodao Productions, came on Feb. 4.

According to NUJP, information technology experts from Sweden-based company Qurium said Bulatlat was exposed to 40,000 times the normal traffic it receives, with the Feb. 4 attack measured at 5 gigabyte (Gbps).

Qurium says a 1 Gbps DDoS attack is enough to take most organizations offline.

While Bulatlat managed to restore its services, Kodao’s website remains down.

International media group Reporters Without Borders, meanwhile, condemned the cyberlibel charges that the justice department had brought against news website Rappler, in connection with an article it posted in 2012.

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and one of its former reporters, Reynaldo Santos Jr., were recently indicted for libel for its 2012 article about alleged ties between businessman Wilfredo Keng and former Chief Justice Renato Corona. —MARIEJO S. RAMOS

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