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Tribal rights charity weathers DDoS assault

Torture footage provokes deluge

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Updated The publication of footage of Indonesian soldiers torturing native Papuans appears to provoked a denial of service attack on the websites of development charities who hosted it.

The websites of Survival International and at least five other organisations who work in West Papua were all floored by the attack, which started at around 5pm on Wednesday and increased in severity over the evening. Survival's site is currently back up even though the assault remains ongoing.

The assault came a week after Survival published the Indonesian torture footage, and around a month after the charity called for tourists to boycott Botswana over its alleged persecution of the Kalahari Bushmen.

Survival reckons authorities in either Botswana or Indonesia, or their allies, are responsible for the flood of spurious traffic that has impaired its website operations.

Other human rights and development charities that hosted the Papuan torture video have also had their websites attacked including Friends of People Close To Nature, West Papua Media Alerts, Asian Human Rights Commission, Free West Papua Campaign and West Papua Unite. This factor, plus the comparative wealth of hacking expertise in Indonesia compared to Botswana, strongly suggest (to El Reg at least) east Indies origins for the attack.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: ‘This isn’t a couple of geeks in a shed, it’s an expensive and sophisticated attack amounting to cyberterrorism.

"The damage to Survival International may be substantial but is of course nothing compared to that inflicted on West Papuan tribes or Botswana’s Bushmen," he added.

Survival's charge is that governments are using denial of service attacks as a mechanism to silence critics, a practice used during Russia's conflict with Georgia two years ago and on a more continuous basis against Tibetan support groups.

Jose Nazario, senior manager of security research at DDoS mitigation firm Arbor Networks, said cyber-attacks against charities and non-government organisations is growing.

"This pattern of someone defending the government against NGO organizations making accusations is not uncommon," Nazario said. "It's happened in that part of the world for some time."

"We don't know who is behind and it I'm wary of accusing anyone," he added.

More on Survival International's reaction to the attacks can be found in an article on its website here. ®

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