China Attacks Tribunal Website Over South China Sea Claim Dispute

China Attacks Tribunal Website Over South China Sea Claim Dispute

Chinese hackers are the prime and usual suspects of a hack into the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which has spread tracking malware to all site visitors.

Cyber experts say although there is no solid evidence yet to clearly place the blame on Chinese attackers, it did occur on the third day of hearings into the highly publicized South China Sea dispute between the Philippines and China. They say the hack also displays all the hallmarks of previous Chinese cyber attacks.

The dispute at the center of the hearing involves Philippines claim of “an abusive intrusion into its maritime territories” by the Chinese military using man-made islands and “forcible takeovers” of small reef atolls.

China has refused to participate in the hearings, saying that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the matter. Legal experts say the case is important in that it may set a legal precedent for powerful nations to take over territories from smaller countries.

Cyber experts say although lack of evidence may lead China to dismiss allegations, it is to blame for the hack. This is not the first case of  similar “coincidences”. Last week Russian hackers broke into the computer system of the Dutch Safety Board, which had just released a report blaming the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over the Ukraine on a Russian missile.

Back in 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),  the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and several national Olympic Committees suffered cyber attacks from hackers traced to China.

These attacks are spearheaded by Chinese state officials attempting to create databases of people and organizations interested in various Chinese related events and issues, so that they can anticipate and counteract all responses and actions.

The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration is expected to issue a final ruling on the South China Sea dispute in December.

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