Philippine govt Web sites hacked

Office of Vice President Web site, together with several others, taken down by hacker group PrivateX to highlight vulnerability of country's Web security, report states.

Hacker group PrivateX is said to be responsible for bringing down several Philippine government Web sites, including the office of the country's vice president Jejomar Binay, on New Year's day, a report noted.

News wire AFP reported Tuesday that a series of New Year's day attacks temporarily took down the government sites, with the country's vice president pinpointing PrivateX as the group that were behind the attacks.

The Office of the Vice President's (OVP) head of media affairs division, Joselito Salgado, gave more details on the attack, saying in a statement on Monday that the OVP's site was hacked by the group on Jan. 1 at about 4 p.m. and was down for more than 15 hours. As the site is being hosted by the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), an agency under the Department of Science and Technology, the ASTI is now looking into the incident and will be putting the needed safeguards in place, he added.

"Unfortunately, the hacking incident has deprived the public, particularly our overseas Filipino workers with a channel to communicate with the Vice President," Salgado pointed out.

Besides attacking the OVP, PrivateX had also defaced the sites of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, the anti-piracy Optical Media Board and two others run by small government agencies, the AFP stated.

While little is known about the hacker group, a message it left on the defaced Web sites seem to imply its affiliation with the Anonymous group of hackers. PrivateX also said its purpose was to show how vulnerable Philippine Web sites are to such attacks, and the emphasis is to highlight the "government's action toward cyber security", the news wire pointed out.

The Facebook page for PrivateX further explained on Monday: "The purpose of the video in the deface page is not for taunting the admin of the OVP but to point out that transferring to a paid hosting [service] doesn't mean that you are secured."

Last November, four Filipinos were arrested by the Philippine police and the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for hacking into AT&T's systems and causing the U.S. telco to incur almost US$2 million losses in fraudulent customer bills.