Indonesia: Cyber-attack targets independent media outlet

Independent media outlet Konde.co was hit by a cyber-attack after publishing an article on sexual harassment within the Indonesian Ministry of Cooperatives and Small Medium Enterprises. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Indonesian affiliates, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia and SINDIKASI, in condemning the attack and urging authorities to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation.

Credit: Activists take part in a demonstration for better women's rights on International Women’s Day in Surabaya, Indonesia, on March 8, 2022. Juni Kriswanto / AFP

On October 24, Konde published an article about incidents of sexual harassment committed by four public servants at the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small-Medium Enterprises (MSME). The article detailed the long history of sexual harassment by MSME staff, including one incident where a victim was forced to marry their abuser to prevent legal repercussions for his behaviour.

At 4:31 pm the same afternoon, Konde.co’s website was reported as down after the article spread rapidly across social media platforms. Later investigation by Konde.co staff revealed the website had suffered a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, in which a party attempts to disrupt the normal functioning of an internet server by overloading it with traffic.

This is the second attack experienced by Konde.co after publishing an article on sexual violence. In May 2020, the Konde.co website was made inaccessible to the public and staff were locked from their official Twitter account.

In recent years, journalists and news outlets across Indonesia have been targeted by various digital attacks, including in 2020 against media outlets Tirto, Tempo, and Magdalene and in 2021, against alternative media outlet Project Multatuli. In late September 2022, 37 journalists and former staff from Narasiwere targeted in a social media hacking incident. Narasi’s website also suffered a DDoS attack.

AJI and SINDIKASI, in a joint statement with the Committee of Journalist Safety (KKJ), said: “We demand the government declare that any threats against journalists and news media outlets are serious human rights violations. We also urge the authorities to investigate the digital attacks and bring perpetrators to court,”

The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the continuous targeted attacks against newsrooms, media outlets and journalists in Indonesia. The IFJ urges the authorities conduct an immediate and thorough investigation and find the perpetrators behind the digital attacks.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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