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Philippine Website Defacement Dilemma

On this Internet age, where 90% of the entire planet conquered by humans, it is apparent that they are somewhat connected to a virtual environment.  Whether we are at sleep, eating at home or in a diner, driving, or just sitting idle we can not deny that we are electronically connected to this virtual environment.  We share out thoughts, our feelings, our ideas and everything else on social media sites or just a plain email to friends and colleagues.  But has anyone thought that these stream of information are likely to be monitored or intercepted?  Are you aware the sites you are visiting are secured from inside out?

anonymousWith the recent event happened yesterday (Aug. 26, 2013) at the Luneta Park, another event took place in the cyberworld clamoring on the latter issue to abolish PDAF which is also known as the pork barrel.  While thousands of Filipino people marched on that momentous date which inked in the book of Philippine history, a handful netizens also made its mark; on the Internet; defacing government websites by the Anonymous Philippines.  Its likely that I myself do not condone to these kind of activity but the mere fact operators or webmasters behind these government sites don’t even bother to mitigate the problem at hand.  We have witnessed to these kind of activity in the past but still the problem persists! Sounds like the “culture” of Philippine government has sipped through the crevices on our local-loop.

Reading through the list of defaced government sites and checking the links, I found out that all these sites are running CMS (content management systems) with the likes of WordPress and Joomla! as their front-end blogging activity.   I am not assuming that these CMS are insecure while I myself ran these web application (like this site you are reading on), one common problem on these sites are those;

  • unverified plugins – what’s this? that have malicious intent behind its purpose of function or plainly have bagful of bugs
  • outdated OS
  • outdated CMS
  • mis-configured firewalls

While its a good thing to have a backup (ASSUMPTION is the MOTHER of all backups, after all) depending on the frequency of blog activities.  It’s also note taking to take into account server perimeters (file permissions, ownerships – who executes what, checking of access levels including some ambiguous usernames and dictionary based passwords and some unwanted application that are not a necessity to the servers intended function). Furthermore, check for updates such as those found on vulnerability database on the internet which are updated regularly for every application that are running on the server.   Remember, there are no perfect systems. Whatever degree of your security protocols being implemented in your organization, hackers will always find a way to penetrate your defenses.  Therefore, keep an eye on your system logs, educate yourself by reading or RSS some on related topics to arm yourselves for future mishaps.


Bravo Baste!

Jose Nathaniel G. Nengasca