Hackers Took Over Philippine Coast Guard's Facebook Page for Days

PCG cutter
PCG file image

Published Feb 29, 2024 3:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cybersecurity is a key concern for every maritime enterprise - even regulators. The Philippine Coast Guard announced Thursday that it has just recovered access to its own Facebook page after hackers broke in and took control. A group of three individuals hijacked the PCG's public-facing social media portal on Monday, using malware, the service said. 

Spokesman Rear Adm. Armando Balilo said that the Philippines' Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) worked with the PCG's Information Systems command to root out three hackers from the service's backend operations. They identified three Facebook usernames connected to the attack: Fatima Hasan, Murat Kansu and Vicky Bates. 

While the hackers had control of the page, they posted two malicious videos, the PCG said. 

Beginning Friday, the CICC is going to go through all of the computer hardware that the PCG's public affairs office uses to manage their Facebook account. The team hopes to find and remove any remaining malware that might have been used in the attack. 

It was the third time that the PCG has been targeted by hackers this year. In mid-February, the service's X (formerly Twitter) account was hijacked for several hours. The month before, the PCG's website was one of several Philippine government sites that were attacked by hackers with IP addresses located in China.

The Chinese embassy in Manila has strenuously denied any involvement in the pattern of cyberattacks. 

"Some Filipino officials and media maliciously speculated about and groundlessly accused China of engaging in cyber attacks against the Philippines, even went as far as connecting these cyber attacks with the South China Sea disputes. Such remarks are highly irresponsible," the embassy said in a statement. "The Chinese government allows no country or individual to engage in cyber attack and other illegal activities on Chinese soil or using Chinese infrastructure."