Philippines: CNN Philippines hit by cyberattack during presidential debate

On February 27, the website of CNN Philippines was hit by a cyberattack that made the site inaccessible to users while the network was hosting a presidential debate ahead of the country’s May 2022 election. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses concern over this cyberattack and condemns the continued attacks on journalism in the Philippines.

CNN Philippines hosting a presidential debate ahead of country's May elections. Credit: Twitter

On February 27 at 7:30pm, CNN Philippines released an advisory notice informing viewers that its website was down due to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.  

“We would like to assure everyone that we are working to get the site up and running as soon as possible,” the network said.  

According to Rappler, the attack lasted for two hours, and the website was running again by 9:45pm. The attack hit CNN Philippines while the network was hosting a presidential debate for the country’s upcoming May 2022 election. All candidates were present except for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. – senator and son of former Filippino president and dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Sr.  

DDoS attacks, currently illegal in the Philippines under the country’s E-Commerce law, are caused by hackers who flood website traffic with requests, causing sites to crash.  

This isn’t the first time a news site has been hit by a cyberattack in the Philippines. In December 2021, ABS-CBN, Rappler, Vera Files, and Philstar, all news outlets in the country, were targeted by DDoS attacks.  

The National Union of Journalists of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Altermidya (People’s Alternative Media Network), Bulatlat, Kodao and Rappler have all previously called on the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the National Bureau of Investigation, to investigate these cyberattacks and hold the hackers responsible.  

The IFJ said: “Arbitrarily restricting access to news sources restricts vital reporting during a critical period for citizens of the Philippines. The IFJ strongly condemns these cyberattacks against independent news outlets and calls for a full investigation into the sources of these attacks.” 

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

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

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram