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Denial of services attacks on news sites meant to stifle dissent, critic

For more than half a month now, the alternative news website Bulatlat (www. bulatlat.com) has been subjected to distributed denial of service attacks aimed at bringing it down. The first series of attacks lasted from Jan. 19 to 31. The second wave came on Feb. 4.

On that same day, another alternative news site, Kodao Productions (www. kodao.org), also came under DDoS attacks.

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

To illustrate the extent of the attacks, IT experts from Sweden-based Qurium said Bulatlat was regularly exposed to 40,000 times the normal traffic it receives. The Feb. 4 attack involved a 5-gigabyte network level attack. Qurium says a 1 Gbps DDoS attack is enough to take most organizations completely offline.

Bulatlat has managed to restore its services through Qurium’s mitigation efforts. Kodao remains down.

This is not the first time the two outfits have been attacked. In December, they and another alternative media outfit, Pinoy Weekly, were also taken down after reporting on the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Mainstream news outfits have also come under attack in the past as what the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has noted. The group’s website has also been attacked in the past using the same DDoS method.

In 2005, these media groups, the NUJP and even the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism found themselves, along with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and others, were listed among the “enemies of the state” in a presentation created by military intelligence and shown in schools and communities around the country.

“The free flow and exchange of ideas is essential to the democratic discourse. Any attempt to curtail this to enforce conformity of thought is anathema to our society,” the NUJP said in a statement.

The groups call on the independent Philippine media community to unite in condemnation of and resistance to these attacks.

“Let us stand by our colleagues in the alternative media, whose work has contributed much to the vibrancy of the Philippine media today,” the statement continues. (nujp)

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