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Cyberattack downs VERA Files website after report on Duterte, Sara’s allegedly undeclared millions


Cyberattacks took down the website of VERA Files at least twice after it published on Sunday a report on President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's alleged failure to declare over P100 million in investments in their respective statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

According to VERA Files president Ellen Tordesillas, the website was hit by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack approximately 30 minutes after it posted the story on Sunday night.

The website went up around 2 a.m., suffered a similar attack at 6 a.m., and was fully operational before lunchtime Monday, said VERA Files editor Daniel Abunales.

A DDoS attack seeks to "make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources," according to Digital Attack Map, which visualizes such attacks real-time.

The site's administrator only confirmed this to the media organization's leaders and staff on Monday afternoon, Tordesillas said.

Prior to the restoration of the site, VERA Files staff re-uploaded the story in Facebook Note format, and Tordesillas posted it on her blog.

The veteran journalist said she did not know who or what carried out the attack.

"Hindi naman nangyari 'yung ganung [attack] sa ibang story...usually nararanasan namin kapag medyo sensitive 'yung article," Tordesillas said.

Sunday night's story, titled "Duterte, Sara fail to declare P100M investments, documents show," analyzed bank records submitted by opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to the Senate last year with father and daughter's SALNs.

A VERA Files source reportedly confirmed the accuracy of the bank entries reflected in the records.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed the story as "hearsay," saying VERA Files could not have obtained such documents given the supposed confidentiality of bank records.

Ran by veteran journalists, VERA Files publishes in-depth and investigative reports on current issues. —NB, GMA News