THE Blue Ribbon chairman leading the probe into alleged multibillion-peso anomalous supply contracts for the pandemic is facing another “battle,” this time on the cyber front, besides the verbal and legal attacks from President Duterte.
Senator Richard J. Gordon’s official website has fallen victim to a coordinated online attack last Oct. 4, causing the site to shut down for several hours, according to his office.
Myke Cruz, information technology officer of Gordon’s office, made the report as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee pursues its probe into government procurement deals, particularly the P11 billion-plus negotiated contracts bagged by low-capital startup Pharmally, which allegedly has ties with Duterte’s friend and former economic adviser, the Davao-based businessman Michael Yang.
“We view such service outage or disruption as a serious concern as its timing comes when the Senate Blue Ribbon panel is investigating alleged irregularities in government procurement for Covid-19 supplies and equipment,” Cruz said.
According to him, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, usually patched through the dark web by nefarious individuals in exchange for a high price, was the cause of the web services shutdown from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Administrators of dickgordon.ph were able to contain the problem by barring entry of traffic from outside the Philippines at around 1 p.m., but the foreign-led attack persisted until 3:04 p.m.
Past instances have linked DDoS attacks to destabilizing the online presence of an opposing party.
Traffic requests to Gordon’s website primarily came from China, the United States, Ukraine, and other Southeast Asian countries, causing the usual bandwidth traffic to rise dramatically from less than 100MB to almost 1.8GB within an hour’s span.
“Ang nangyari, puwede mo ihalintulad sa sari-sari store, na usually may regular na bilang ng customers na bumibili sa loob ng isang minuto. Ngayon, biglang dinumog ng lahat ng residente ng Metro Manila ang sari-sari store para bumili, kaya di lahat matutugunan on time,” explained Cruz.
“[What happened may be likened to a sari-sari store that usually has regular customers who spend a few minutes buying. But now, all of Metro Manila’s residents suddenly decided to buy at the same time, making it impossible to service all of them].”
The botnet owner, the originator of the attack, usually develops a malicious software or malware distributed through email or website attachments.
Owners of these infected computers unknowingly host this malware, which the attacker adds to the botnet to simultaneously make requests on a specific website or cloud service.
As the servers are only capable of entertaining a certain number of simultaneous requests per second, it may cause the server to reach its computing resource, creating a bottleneck.
Earlier, Gordon had cautioned the public to be more discriminating about disinformation and fake news being propagated from pro-administration pages on Facebook and Google (YouTube) meant to discredit him and other senators.
Gordon’s social media pages have also been pestered by “trolls” as he pursues the Senate probe into the alleged anomalous government procurement of Covid-19 medical supplies and equipment with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.
These “trolls” have parroted President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s baseless allegations against Gordon through ready-made comments and spliced videos attacking him and rehashing long-settled issues in the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Duterte also ordered his Cabinet officials not to cooperate in the ongoing Senate inquiry which has linked former presidential economic adviser Yang to the company, which is being called out for questionable financial, technical, and legal capacity.