Hackers take Sabah conflict to cyberspace

Philippine and Malaysian Web sites were defaced with messages sympathetic to either side of the armed territorial dispute over the Malaysian state.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

A territorial dispute in Sabah, which has resulted in an armed conflict, spilled online over the weekend with a slew of local Web sites hacked and defaced.

According to GMA News Online on Sunday, one Philippine Web site and several Malaysian ones were hacked and defaced with messages sympathizing with either side of the armed conflict.

The territorial dispute started on February 11, 2013 when followers of Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III asserted his claim over eastern parts of Sabah. The claims take root from the North Borneo dispute, when Sabah state was known as North Borneo prior to the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963.
The conflict has since escalated into a shootout between Filipinos and Malaysian security forces resulting in at least a dozen deaths on Friday March 1, 2013.

On Sunday morning, the online store of Philippine telco Globe Telecom had been defaced by hackers claiming to be from "MALAYSIA Cyb3r 4rmy". "Do not invade our country or you will suffer the consequences," the group warned in the defacement. The site was restored two hours later.

Philippines' Globe Telecom's online store was defaced by the "MALAYSIA Cyb3r 4rmy", with the following message. (Source; GMA News Online)

In apparent retailiation, pro-Philippines hackers defaced several Malaysian Web sites. The hackers also warned Malaysia ,"Stop attacking our cyberspace! Or else will will attack your cyberworld", and some defaced sites also bore the logo of the Philippine arm of Anonymous.

Hacker group "Anonymous #Philippine Cyber Army" also listed the hacked Malaysian Web sites including online marketplace www.1264u.com and car retail store www.acm-motorsport.com.my, in a Facebook Post.

Visitors to the defaced Malaysian Web sites were greeted with the following statements. (Source: GMA News Online)

However, a statement by hacktivist group Anonymous on pastebin also called for hackers of both countries to stop. "The petty cyberwar will gain us nothing but wrong impressions from ordinary people," the statement read. "Let us help both The Philippines and Malaysia unite, not find a reason to fight."

Cross border cyberspace standoffs between hackers have been under the spotlight over the past year. In April last year, Filipino hackers also defaced several China Web sites, in retailiation against Chinese hackers' breach of a Philippine university's site, to claim ownership of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

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