Malaysia’s top political news portal Malaysiakini has been down for more than 24 hours after being targeted by cyber attackers, which is believed to be linked to the hotly contested state elections on Borneo island.
The attack came days after another controversial political website, SarawakReport, was hit by a similar attack. Steven Gan, co-founder and chief editor of Malaysiakini, believes that this is no mere coincidence, linking the attacks to the campaigning for the Sarawak elections. He told AFP:
“We are trying to get our website up and running and we are providing our content for free at the moment as we will continue reporting on what is happening in Sarawak. We will not stop, we will prevail.”
Gan said the “denial of service” attack began Tuesday morning when the portal’s servers were swarmed by massive and coordinated traffic from overseas. Under the DDoS tactic, malicious codes infect computers to trigger mass attacks against targeted websites. DDoS attacks, although unsophisticated, are difficult to defend against. The political news site was forced it to post its reports on blogsites as well as Twitter and Facebook during the downtime.
According to the report, it is believed that the attacks are somehow linked to state chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud‘s hunger to hold on to his position as head of Sarawak, a resource-rich but impoverished state, since 1981. Political news websites, Sarawak Report included, have been publishing articles on the wealth accumulated by Abdul Taib and his family, as well as allegations of resource exploitation.
Malaysiakini, prior to the attack, has been reporting closely on the state election over the last two weeks and published articles on alleged vote-buying by ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, as well as the post-election fate of Abdul Taib amid a clamour from critics for him to step down.