The following post was written by Cicy Wang for New America Media’s EthnoBlog. See her original post here.
Chinese and Vietnamese hackers have started a cyber war over the territorial dispute on the ownership of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea [officially known as the East Sea in Vietnam]. According to Global Times, a website under the operation of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry was hacked in June. The cyber attack has disabled all the links on that website and placed the China’s flag at the center of the page. The article said the hackers left their cyber names “3King” and “Xiao Lan” on the website and claimed to be from Yancheng (northeastern Jiangsu Province).
Apart from the flag, hackers also left Chinese phrases like “Spratly Islands Belong to China” on the website with China’s national anthem “March of the Volunteers” playing over and over again. The article noted that Chinese hackers invading into other countries’ government websites were not uncommon, especially if those countries were in some kind of dispute with China. For example, in 2010 August, the Chinese flag appeared on the Philippine’s government website asking for an apology after Chinese tourist hostages were killed in Manila. In October of the same year, the government website of Japan’s Shimane Prefecture was also hacked, with Chinese characters insulting Japan.
The Vietnamese media has also been reporting on those cyber attacks. According to Thanh Nien News, 200 Vietnamese websites were attacked in June, and 10 percent of those websites were managed by government agencies. For example, 20 websites under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were hacked. A source from the ministry’s network security supporter said that they have identified that the Internet protocols (IP) of computers attacking the portal were from China. According to some Chinese bloggers, they believe the attacks started by Honker Union, a mysterious hacker organization in China formed by young people with sophisticated computer skills. However, the Vietnamese also began their retaliation. Several Chinese websites were also under attacks by Vietnamese hackers, one of them was posting an image with a Vietnamese sailor holding a machine gun with English and Vietnamese words saying “Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands Belong to Vietnam” and Chinese characters saying that “Vietnam People are Willing to Protect the Sea, the Sky and the Country.”