The Irrawaddy Hacked
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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The Irrawaddy Hacked

By KO HTWE Monday, March 14, 2011


The hackers who posted two fake articles on the website of The Irrawaddy on Friday deliberately intended to “create confusion and misunderstanding,” and to discredit the news agency, said the senior editor at Thailand-based The Irrawaddy.

The hacker or hackers, whose identify is so far unknown, hijacked the English-language edition of the exile Burmese news group's website on Friday night and posted two false stories, both controversial articles, one intended to sow a misunderstanding between The Irrawaddy and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, and another falsely proclaiming that well-known Burmese pop singer May Sweet had died.

The first fabricated article that was inserted onto the site stated that  Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were responsible for the recent reduction in funding from international donors to The Irrawaddy and fellow exile news agency Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). 

The Irrawaddy's founder and editor Aung Zaw on Monday said he believed the cyber attack was launched by a pro-military junta group or Naypyidaw's cyber warfare department.

“The intension of the attack is to damage the credibility of The Irrawaddy,” he said. 

Over the past year, The Irrawaddy has exposed many illegal activities of the Burmese junta, including the fixing of November's general election, high-level corruption, nepotism, and the release of exclusive photos of secret military missions from Burma to North Korea.

“This is most likely why the junta has assigned technicians to attack our website,” Aung Zaw said. 

Win Thu, the office manager of The Irrawaddy, admitted that there is a security weakness on the website and said he was trying to find the best solution to overcome the weakness.

“From the Web Content Management System (WCMS), the intruder posted two stories,” said Win Thu. “It is important to protect ourselves against such an intrusion. We are investigating who the culprits could be. According to the style of the writing, the culprits may be regular readers who know well the style and layout of  The Irrawaddy.”

A WCMS is a system designed to simplify the publication of web content to websites and mobile devices—in particular, allowing content creators to submit content without requiring technical knowledge of HTML or the uploading of files.

Many exile Burmese websites are hacked and defaced by hackers, said an IT expert, though this latest incident indicates that the people hired to do the job are getting more sophisticated in their approach.

“Rather than merely attacking the technical infrastructure of the site, as they have in the past with DDoS [Distributed Denial of Service] attacks, or infecting the servers that host the site with a virus, they may be targeting something more valuable—the news agency's reputation,” he said.

The second false article that was posted on the site carried the byline of Violet Cho, a former reporter for The Irrawaddy who left the company in 2009.

The article, that claimed that Burmese celebrity May Sweet had died, infuriated the singer who, not knowing the site had been hacked, launched an attack against The Irrawaddy on her Facebook account.

“I feel sorry for the persons who were mentioned in the fake articles, including May Sweet,” said Win Thu. 

The websites of The Irrawaddy came under attack by a two-gigabyte DDoS in September, which shut down both its English and Burmese online editions. The sites were also disabled in September 2008 by a one-gigabyte DDoS attack.


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Clive Parker Wrote:
I agree that it is wrong to hack another website to post stories claiming to be the production of The Irrawaddy. However, surely we must be very careful to say that anything criticising The Irrawaddy or any exile organisation is automatically siding with the junta. If the exile media considers itself above constructive criticism then by definition it would be undemocratic and little different from the junta itself. The interesting thing about the fake story on the NLD was that actually a lot of things it said about The Irrawaddy and Aung Zaw are perfectly true suggesting it was in fact the work of somebody with an insight into the organisation, as noted privately by many Burma watchers. There is no doubt the junta wants to attack The Irrawaddy website and that it has done so in the past - after all, it produces highly valuable information on Burma. But that doesn't mean those opposed to the junta cannot ask difficult questions of The Irrawaddy too.

Don't be used by Junta Wrote:
First, everyone needs to know that exile media like Irrawaddy, DVB, Mizzima were attacked by Junta since 2007 to create confusion and misunderstanding.

Second, do not fall into their trap by angry retaliation. If you showed too much emotion and attacked one person or news group without knowing all the facts, you become their tool.

Third, think and think again who has been oppressing the people of Burma for over 40 years and who is censoring the news and why do you need to live outside Burma.

News agency like Irrawaddy fight for Burmese people truths and well being of general Burmese people not just for one celebrity.

They have already explained what happen and you better believe it because they are telling the truth.

If you want apology, go ask Burmese Junta's apology when you return to Burma.

Lastly, like Ko Kyaw thus said, "Don't be afraid of death, just be afraid of being bad human beings while you are alive".

Dr W Taw Wrote:
@ Max

What goes up must come down. This is the law of nature. Nothing lasts forever. They will eventually go. Their time is getting nearer.

kerry Wrote:
Did the hacking and cyber attacks increase in intensity after Than Shwe's visit to China?

Max Wrote:
So glad to hear this story was fake. I was very confused when I read it. To the person who wrote it, karma will look after you and your fearful leader Than Shwe.

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