Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cyber attacks on Indonesian gov’t critics reproofed




Cyber attacks on Indonesian gov’t critics reproofed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Amnesty International Indonesia has recorded at least 35 cases of alleged intimidation and digital attacks on government critics since February last year. PIXABAY

Cyber attacks on Indonesian gov’t critics reproofed

Civil groups have condemned recent cyberattacks on the websites of two prominent institutions and the social media account of a scientist, all of whom have been critical of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, calling them a threat to democracy and freedom of speech.

The Twitter account of Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia (UI), was reportedly hacked on Wednesday. The handle, @drpriono, posted pictures that aimed to damage Pandu’s reputation. The account was secured on Sunday and the pictures deleted.

Prior to the incident, Pandu slammed a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by Surabaya-based Airlangga University, saying it had yet to undergo clinical trials.

He also criticised the university for not reporting its findings to the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) and handing it over to the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Indonesian Army instead.

Pandu has been voicing his concerns about the government’s Covid-19-related policies, such as tourism promotion amid the pandemic, campaigns for a “new normal” and the ineffectiveness of rapid antibody tests that have become a requirement for travelling.

On Thursday midnight, news website tempo.co, which is a part of Tempo Media Group that also publishes Koran Tempo daily and Tempo weekly magazine, was hacked until early on Friday. The media group’s pandemic reported has included criticism against government policies.

At 12:30am, the homepage turned black and played “Gugur Bunga” (Fallen Flowers), a patriotic song honouring fallen wartime heroes, for 15 minutes.

The screen displayed the message: “Stop Hoaxes, Don’t lie to the Indonesian People, Return to true journalistic ethics [and] obey the Press Council. Don’t [bow down to] people who pay. Deface By @xdigeeembok.”

Tempo.co chief editor Setri Yasra said the attack was an attempt to silence the media.

Setri told The Jakarta Post on Friday: “We condemn anyone who tries to interfere with the work of the press. Press products are not always perfect, but we have a controlled mechanism, we have a press council to go to.”

The website of a research group that is also known to be critical of the government’s coronavirus policies, the Centre for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives (CISDI), was hacked for three days starting on Wednesday.

The attack caused the institution to lose important documents on its website, cisdi.org.

The Civil Society Coalition, whose members include Amnesty International Indonesia, the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) and the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), demanded that the government and law enforcement bodies transparently investigate the cyberattacks and punished the perpetrators.

Amnesty International Indonesia has recorded at least 35 cases of alleged intimidation and digital attacks on government critics since February last year.

YLBHI chairwoman Asfinawati told the Post on Saturday: “The government must explain and share their information to the public – whether the attacks against the critics have anything to do with the government – because the public doesn’t have the tools or access [for an investigation].”

Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said if the hackers were found to be part of the State, there should be no impunity.

Usman said in a written statement on Friday: “Silencing criticism is a violation of human rights. The people’s rights to express their opinion is guaranteed in both Indonesia’s Constitution and international human rights laws.”

Minister of Communications and Information Johnny G Plate said labelling the cyberattacks as “silencing criticism” was a serious, groundless accusation.

He told the Post on Saturday: “Don’t make accusations based on assumptions. Cybercrime happens every minute on any digital platform, including digital businesses and government websites, not just tempo.co or Pandu Riono’s account.”

Johnny said the ministry was ready to help but expected the victims to be proactive in reporting their case to the ministry or to the police, so the latter could move quickly to track down the perpetrators. In addition, the ministry and the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) could audit the security system of the hacked parties.

He said: “The ministry cannot take action if there is no report. For example, we can’t just go into Tempo’s system without permission, right?”

The ministry would like to evaluate and improve Tempo’s cybersecurity system, he said.

“A strong system won’t be easily breached. The rising number of cyberattacks is a reminder for us to improve our security system and protect our digital space,” Johnny said.

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Capital set to beef up security

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng held the first meeting of the year with heads of armed forces in the capital to review and repair the deficiencies related to gun control, drug crimes, social order disruptions due to alcohol consumption and traffic law enforcement. Municipal