BANGKOK — Authorities in Indonesia must launch an independent investigation into a cyberattack on the Konde.co news website and identify the perpetrators, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On October 24, Konde.co was hit by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that temporarily brought down the independent local news website, according to news reports and the publication’s editor-in-chief Luviana Ariyanti, who emailed with CPJ. DDoS attacks flood websites with requests to prevent them from functioning.
Konde.co has faced persistent harassment since it was founded in 2016, according to Ariyanti. Reporting on women’s issues and marginalized groups has attracted opposition in the Muslim majority nation, where conservative religious groups have political sway.
“Indonesian authorities must fully investigate this cyberattack against Konde.co,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “It’s not the first time Konde.co has been attacked for reporting on sexual violence in Indonesia and it won’t be the last unless officials show that they take such incidents seriously.”
Ariyanti said the first cyberattack was launched at around 3:30 p.m. on October 24, soon after Konde.co published what she described as a “viral” report on a rape case involving Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises officials. A second cyberattack was launched around 11:30 p.m. the same day, Ariyanti said. Konde.co is preparing information to present to local police to investigate.
In 2016, a fundamentalist group threatened to sue Konde.co for defaming the Muslim religion over an infographic it published about sexual violence in local Islamic boarding schools, known as pesantran, Ariyanti said. Konde.co reported the threat to the National Commission on Violence Against Women and Indonesia’s Press Council and it was subsequently dropped.
On May 15, 2020, Konde.co’s Twitter account was hacked and temporarily shut down during an in-person discussion the publication hosted about sexual violence on a university campus in the city of Yogyakarta, Ariyanti said. The perpetrators were never identified, she said.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on the October 24 cyberattack on Konde.co.