MANILA, Philippines (Update 7:17 p.m.) -- At least three websites of Malacañang were attacked by Chinese hackers Monday afternoon.
The attacks took place at around four o' clock in the afternooon, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Monday.
The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office "noticed a significant spike in traffic with malicious URL requests from forged user-agents" being channeled to the Official Gazette website (www.gov.ph), PCDSPO website (www.pcdspo.gov.ph), and the Presidential Museum and Library website (www.malacanang.gov.ph), Lacierda said.
The cyber attack, as described by Lacierda, can be attributed to a method called "distributed denial of service attack" (DDoS), used by hacking groups to take down particular websites.
The method involves overwhelming the website’s server by executing external commands from a number of terminals, subsequently crippling the server indefinitely.
Lacierda said the attacks "caused our servers to momentarily lag."
"Information gathered through our data analysis indicated that the attack originated from IP addresses assigned to Chinese networks," Lacierda said.
"We determined that this was a denial-of- service attack," the Palace official added.
The three websites are now up and running.
On Friday, the University of the Philippines website featured a photo depicting China’s territorial claim of the Spratly Islands, particularly the Scarborough Shoal, which has been the subject of an ongoing standoff between Chinese and Philippine naval forces.
“We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours!” a caption below the photo of the defacement said.
In retaliation, a group of Philippine-based hackers defaced a Chinese university website on Saturday.
The group Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines broke into one of the sub-websites of the Chinese University Media Union (UMU) and replaced the main page with a defaced website that declared “Scarborough Shoal is ours!” as loud, screaming music played in the background.
Other segments of the website were also inaccessible as of posting time.
Other Chinese web properties that were broken into included the websites of China Youth Online, P. Loft Youth Hostel, and a Chinese government website, among others.
Images of the Philippine map and flag with text asserting that the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratly Islands) belongs to the Philippines were posted on the Chinese government website gh.rc.gov.cn.
The note “You got f****d by the Philippines! Spratlys Island is OURS! You started the fire we end it with dust!” also appeared across the said website.
A text scroll saying “STFU Chinese government is clearly retarded Scarborough Shoal is ours!” appeared on the website of the Chinese University Media Union.
Below it was the text: Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines We are Anynymous, We are Legion, We don’t forgive, We don’t forget, United as one, divided by zero, expect us.
In a separate report, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) condemned the virtual war in cyber space that has erupted after Chinese and Filipinohackers defaced websites from the other's country.
"We denounce such cyber attacks regardless of who engages in them. They are counterproductive and only add to the tension. We call on the netizens of both countries to act more responsibly," said DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez.
He also said the government is already working on securing its web properties to "prevent disruptions." (with Veronica Uy, InterAksyon)