“We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours!”
This message welcomed early morning visitors to the University of the Philippines (UP) System’s website (up.edu.ph) on Friday as the state university suffered a cyberattack from what seem to be pro-China hackers claiming ownership of Panatag Shoal, off the Philippine coast.
Posted with the message is a map of China’s so-called "9-dash line," supposedly indicating the superpower’s territorial claim in its southern seas —which extends to the Philippines and even to Malaysia’s coastline.
The UP System's website is the main online portal for news and events relevant to undergraduates and alumni of any of the UP campuses across the country. As such, it is regularly visited by distinguished academics and influential alumni from around the world.
The website is currently inaccessible, but UP Diliman Professor Lawrence Velasco managed to get a screengrab at 4am (local time) before it went down.
“Magchecheck ako dapat kung may list na ng mga summa cum laude tapos yun na,” said Velasco, who is currently in France.
The attack comes amidst the Philippines’ ongoing standoff with China regarding "Scarborough Shoal", the international name for the disputed region.
“We strongly denounce the attempt to deprive the UP community of vital information,” said UP Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Danilo Arao via a text message to GMA News Online.
Arao confirmed that the attack happened around 3am, and that the the university’s System Information Office, IT Training Center, and Computer Center are still working to restore the website as of 11:30am.