Cyber-skullduggery: adding fuel to the fire

It seems that there are certain groups of people who are looking to increase the tension between China and the Philippines with regards to the standoff at Scarborough Shoal. They’re doing it through a ubiquitous medium that we couldn’t think of existing without nowadays: the Internet. And they’re doing it by perpetrating what I call cyber-skullduggery.

The first incident was reported on April 20, where hackers claiming to be from China defaced the UP system website. They posted a message “We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours!”, along with a map which showed their territorial claim to the waters between the Philippines and the Chinese mainland.

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The second action was reported to be a retaliation by certain Pinoy hacktivist groups to the UP website cyberattack mentioned above. The message was clear: “STFU. Chinese government is clearly retarded. Scarborough Shoal is ours!”

With Philippine infrastructure being what it is right now, I doubt these issues will ever be resolved, or will result in increased vigilance. We can probably expect more defacement to happen again in the near future. If more advanced countries are having difficulties in prosecuting cybercrime, does the Philippine government think they actually can do any better? Despite repeated calls by Malacañang to stop cyber-attacks involving the Panatag Shoal dispute and for government agencies to step up cyber-security measures, they themselves have yet to lay out any sort of solid framework to develop protection against attacks like these. To ask that there be legislation and infrastructure for cybercrime prosecution and prevention is, apparently, too much to ask.

If you ask me, the retaliation to Chinese websites reminds me of the pointless defacement of the US Embassy by the League of Filipino Students (LFS). It’s not exactly something to be proud of, okay?

We must ask ourselves many questions before we jump the gun about how low we the Philippines and China are willing to go. The following are just mere examples:

1. Have we thought that maybe these “pro-China” hackers who infiltrated the UP Website are not actually Chinese?
2. Assuming it was the Chinese, why would they perpetrate such cyber-skullduggery? What do they stand to gain from all this?
3. If the retaliation was indeed done by Filipino hacktivists, what were they trying to prove?
4. Where exactly is the intelligence gathering capability of the Philippine government?
5. Have we even considered that flaccid emo reactions are what exactly we don’t need in the situation we are in right now?

Even though we cannot ignore this type of incident, to focus on it for the wrong reasons will only bring about the degeneration of the situation. We must not let compound the tension in the situation by taking it out on people who have absolutely nothing to do with the incident, such as our Chinese civilians. We must not let the actions of a few, possibly rogue elements, determine our undertakings with those who are not involved. Most importantly, we must not allow emotion to be our guide in looking for solutions to this conflict.

Granted, the reaction of our government has been less than satisfactory. It’s difficult to fully appreciate and understand why they insist on such acquiescence. It’s difficult to understand why they seem so surprised by skullduggery being perpetrated on Philippine websites.

If the Philippines is showing that it is this vulnerable both in the real-world and online, the next step is to determine what we, as a people, and the government plan to do about it? We can’t sit around and do nothing; our friend Uncle Sam will not always be around to save our ass. The government must see this as a chance to prove that it can step up and stand for its people on its own without having to resort to mischief and extralegal means, and without having to resort to garnering popular support from other parties who don’t have as much vested interest as we do. If they can’t, a defacement will seem tame compared to the loss of face that they stand to incur. If the Philippine government wants to be respected by its citizens, then their neighbors, they have to earn it with solid action and not just empty rhetoric.

7 Replies to “Cyber-skullduggery: adding fuel to the fire”

  1. Those anti-china flips are antagonists in the making. Just like what happened to the Russians after they defeat and conquered east of nazi Germany.

  2. Well before the government or the people react on the issue of hackers, they should investigate it first and find out who’s behind of this; before presenting it to the media to avoid friction. Most of the times we’re just over reacting and start pointing fingers to other base on what we saw not based on what we found out (investigation).

  3. I think the hacking is just game-playing. The serious stuff is between the boats. It is a world-changing test, I think. Do Filipinos have the passion and commitment to defend their nation’s territorial rights, with their blood, or the blood of their sons?

    Or do they expect Americans to shed the blood.

    Or do they expect a sanitary war using American weapons?

    Or do they think the Philippines can bully China into conceding all that oil?

    Or will they simply lay the blame on President Aquino if anything bad happens?

    1. More than 60 years ago, we shed our blood fighting your war (WWII, remember?). But that’s beside the point.
      The point is are our generals and admirals and politicians’ sons & daughters willing to do what my grandfather did a lifetime ago? Because that’s what might really happen.

      In the end our corruption, ill-preparedness and foreign dependency came back to bite us in the face.

      I also noticed the stark silence of the Fil-Chinese oligarchs regarding this matter.
      At the risk of sounding racist, I think my concerns are legitimate.

  4. “Fallen Angel,

    “It seems that there are certain groups of people who are looking to increase the tension between China and the Philippines with regards to the standoff at Scarborough Shoal.”

    🙂 Exactly my thoughts! All things are not what they seem to be on the surface in geopolitics. its even more complicated than domestic politics. Always take a DEEP Breath and DIG Deeper.

    It also explain why US & ASEAN is officially “mum” over this issue. …the WAIT AND SEE attitude.

    1. “Fallen Angel,

      You know it would be interesting if GRP could do an indepth analytical piece on the current Scarborough Shoal stand off. Include the consequences of past administrations actions into the analysis as well. …Remember, in International Relations, Sovereign States do not look towards individuals. In the end they only recognize countries not individual personalities…even if you are a “super star” in whatever field.

  5. Territorial claims can cause wars…just look at the causes of World War II…Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany claims in Czekoslovakia and Poland. Japanese invasion on Manchuria, China…

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