Filtered By: Scitech

Comelec website down 2 days before polls, possible victim of cyberattack

Updated: 4:59 p.m. - With two days left before the May 13 elections, the Comelec website, along with several other government websites, became inaccessible. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez claimed that this was due to the volume of traffic rather than sabotage. Jimenez urged voters to call the Comelec using landlines for queries about the location of their precincts.

At the same time, GMA Network's technical security team detected an overnight cyberattack that was still ongoing as of posting time on numerous Philippine websites, including GMA News Online, ABS-CBN News, Philippine Airlines, Globe, Smart, and more than two dozen Philippine government websites.

The attacks are apparently emanating from Taiwan based on the referrer tags and the forum website pages used to "trigger" the attacks.

The following government sites were not accessible as of 11 a.m. Saturday:
Department of National Defense,
Department of Foreign Affairs,
Department of Interior and Local Government,
Department of Science and Technology,
Philippine National Police,
Philippine Army,
Philippine Navy,
Philippines News Agency,
Philippine Information Agency,

Nearly all of them were subjected to a "Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)" attack, intended to bring down the sites rather than hack into them.

A Taiwan-based website displayed the inaccessible Malacañang website on its home page, with a comment: "Well done, quickly come out to apologize."

According to the article from, with a May 10, 2013 timestamp, rendered via various online translators (Google Translate, Bing Translator, and, the attacks are a reaction to an incident Thursday morning in the seas between Taiwan and the Philippines in which a Taiwanese fisherman was killed by the Philippine Coast Guard, after his vessel threatened to ram the coast guard ship.

Origin of attacks can't be confirmed

Taiwan has already demanded an apology, but the Philippine government has not done so pending an investigation of the incident.

Meanwhile, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) confirmed that what transpired were indeed DDoS attacks and is currently doing what it can to neutralize their effects.
In an email to GMA News Online, Roy Espiritu, of the DOST's Information and Communication Technology Office, also said the origin of the attacks cannot be definitively confirmed.
"Yes, we can confirm that DDOS attacks were directed on several government websites starting on the Official Gazette, which was attacked yesterday. We cannot confirm definitely the source of the attacks as DDOS sources are usually masked," he said.
"We are currently working on neutralizing the attacks on DOST-hosted servers as well as assisting agencies that have requested for assistance in restoring their web sites," Espiritu continued.
Comelec hotlines
Comelec spokesman James Arthur Jimenez posted landline hotlines for the public trying to avail of the poll body's precinct finder.
In a post on his Twitter account, Jimenez said those who could not access the precinct finder on the Comelec website may call any of the following landline numbers ( 525335, 5259297, 5259301, 5259302, 5259345, 5271892, 5516552, 5521451, 5523044. 

In a text message to GMA News Online, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that, based on information he has gotten, the site is just down because of the number of people trying to visit the site.

"Too many people trying to access (the site), slows everyone down," he said.

Jimenez also suggested it was a coincidence that the Comelec site was down at the same time as several other government sites.

"Kasi nagloload naman yung site namin eh. Napaka-bagal lang," he said in a separate text message.

Specific targets

Meanwhile, an analysis of a portion of the code used in the attack also revealed a list of the following specific targets:
– Gian C. Geronimo/Timothy James Dimacali/Howie Severino /KDM, GMA News