Chinese and Filipino hackers engaged in a cyberspace standoff over the weekend, to assert their country's claim over areas in the South China Sea, according to reports.
Hackers claiming to be from China had defaced the Web site of the University of the Philippines on Friday, AFP reported on Saturday. A screenshot of the defaced Web site showed the map with Chinese script which highlighted islands in the South China Sea which are claimed by the Philippines and China.
"We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours," the caption on the map had read. Huangyan is the Chinese name for the Scarborough Shoal, where the two countries have stationed vessels for nearly two weeks in a standoff to assert their claims.
The disputes were aggravated in mid-April when Chinese vessels blocked a Filipino warship from arresting the crews of Chinese fishing boats in the Huangyan Island area, noted a report on China Daily.
The university then shut down its site temporarily after the attack was detected on Saturday, according to Jason Chao, network engineer of the school's computer center, who told AFP. The university's Web site has since been restored after Friday's attack.
Filipino hackers then struck back the following day, defacing Chinese Web sites including www.star.chinaumu.org, www.v.cyol.com, www.ploft.cn, www.sanxinsudi.com, www.gh.rc.gov.cn, www.ryjzw.com and www.lanseyinxiang.com, with claims of sovereignty over the Huangyan and Nansha islands, GMA News Online reported on Saturday.
Both attacks were reportedly the work of individuals and not condoned or encouraged by the governments of both China and the Philippines, the GMA report added.
Raul Hernandez, a spokesperson from the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs, told AFP that the hacking could be linked to the standoff. "These computer hackings are sometimes done by some people who are passionately affected and involved in the discussion," he said. "We denounce such cyberattacks, regardless of which side they are coming from. They are counter-productive and will only add to the tensions."