Chinese hacks website of court hearing Phl arbitration case

2 years ago

A hacker from China is believed to have attacked the website of the international court hearing the arbitration case of Manila against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea, a Bloomberg Business report said, citing information from a US-based security company.

In the report, “someone from China” reportedly injected a malware in the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague last July, based on information from ThreatConnect Inc.

The report said the attack happened in the midst of the week-long hearing on the issue of jurisdiction of the arbitration case.

The PCA website was supposedly unavailable for a short period due to technical problems.

Gaelle Chevalier, a case manager at the PCA, told Bloomberg that they “have no information about the cause of the problems.”

According to ThreatConnect, the web page of the case of the Philippines against China was infected with a code that harms Internet users who visit the page.

“That left diplomats, lawyers and journalists interested in the case at risk of information theft, plus their wider organizations,” read the report.

China, which has declined to participate in the arbitration case, did not comment on the allegations.

Presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte was quoted in the report as saying that the Philippine government was surprised with the report.

Jason Healey of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and Anni Piiparinen of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security, in an analysis for The Diplomat, noted the significance of such attack.

“Chinese cyber units may be able to find out the names of people who are following the case and anticipate what their response might be if the court rules against China,” they wrote.

“For example, if Vietnamese or Japanese diplomats visited the website and their computers were infected, China could have access to internal documents and understand that country’s next moves over the disputed islands,” they added.

Meanwhile, the conduct of freedom of navigation exercise by a United States warship close to one of the man-made islands of China in the Spratlys archipelago has leveled the playing field over the prevailing maritime dispute in the disputed region, the defense department said.

“We have seen the balance of powers because of the enforcement of rules,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said, refering to the USS Lassen sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-made island the Chinese built over Subi Reef.

“If they could not impose the law on a particular country while it is being imposed on us, it’s not equal.  But now  we  have seen the balance of power,” Gazmin said.

Source:  Philippine Star