Cyberwarfare / Nation-State Attacks , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Geo Focus: Asia

Philippines Accuses China of Hacking 6 Government Agencies

Investigators Say Attackers Used China-Based IP Addresses, Chinese Telecom Services
Philippines Accuses China of Hacking 6 Government Agencies
The Palacio del Gobernador government building in Manila, Philippines (Image: Shutterstock)

The Filipino government has accused China-based threat actors of hacking into the websites of multiple government entities and infiltrating government email systems.

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An official from the Department of Information and Communications Technology told reporters that China-based threat actors had attempted to hack into the websites of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the cabinet secretary, the Philippines Coast Guard, the Philippines Department of Justice and the National Coast Watch System.

The cyberattacks in January also sought to disrupt DICT's email system, said Jeffry Ian Dy, undersecretary for cybersecurity at DICT. He said the department worked with a cloud services provider to mitigate the incident and shut down hackers' access to the compromised websites.

DICT spokesperson Renato Paraiso told reporters that an investigation into the cyberattacks revealed that the malicious actors had used China-based IP addresses and the services of Chinese telecommunications company Unicom to mount attacks on the Filipino government websites.

China responded quickly and angrily to the allegations, calling DICT's statements highly irresponsible, groundless and malicious.

"Some Filipino officials and media maliciously speculated about and groundlessly accused China of engaging in cyberattacks against the Philippines, even went as far as connecting these cyberattacks with the South China Sea disputes. Such remarks are highly irresponsible," a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines said.

The targeted cyberattacks on government agencies raised tensions within the Filipino political system amid the country's worsening relations with China over a South China Sea dispute. House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez on Monday demanded that DICT officials provide an urgent congressional briefing on the cyberattacks.

President Marcos approved the agency's long-pending five-year National Cybersecurity Plan on Tuesday. The plan gives more powers to the agency to modernize IT infrastructure, enhance cyber awareness and coordinate incident response.

According to DICT, the plan focuses on strengthening the security of critical information infrastructure, promoting convergence among government agencies to secure their digital infrastructure, increasing the cybersecurity workforce and enhancing international cooperation in cybersecurity.

Marcos signed an executive order in late January to create a National Intelligence Coordinating Agency that will serve as a lead agency to direct, coordinate and integrate government efforts to safeguard national security. The executive order also established the office of the Deputy Director General for Cyber and Emerging Threats under NICA to plan, supervise and coordinate the agency's responses to cybersecurity threats.

About the Author

Jayant Chakravarti

Jayant Chakravarti

Senior Editor, APAC

Chakravarti covers cybersecurity developments in the Asia-Pacific region. He has been writing about technology since 2014, including for Ziff Davis.

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