Three government websites hacked over South China Sea dispute

Chinese cyber attackers are believed to be responsible for hacks that took down three government websites in the Philippines.

These attacks are likely a retaliation for the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague siding with the Philippines in a dispute between it and China over which country has the right to the natural resources located in the South China Sea.

On July 16, the websites Loon and Panglao suffered a security breach and then two days later on July 18, the website for the Commission on Audi (COA) was hacked. The content of the three sites was replaced with a picture of the Guy Fawkes mask that serves as the hacktivist collective Anonymous' symbol.

A message also appeared on the sites which read: “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice. If you are a man you take it. - Chinese government.” It appears that this message was linked back to a Twitter account that belongs to a Brazilian member of Anonymous. Although it is unclear as to whether he or she was involved in the attack or someone else linked back to their twitter without their knowledge or consent.

The South China Sea possesses a wealth of natural resources including hydrocarbon and natural gas. It is also one of the world's major shipping corridors for global trade. Currently China, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines all lay claim to the South China Sea.

COA's website appears to functioning normally now but with so much at stake over the South China Sea, we will likely see cyberterrorism employed more and more by Anonymous or even other groups of hacktivists.

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