Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – News site tempo.co from Tempo Media Group experienced a series of hacks from Thursday midnight to early Friday.
As reported by the site on Friday morning, tempo.co was not accessible on Thursday midnight, with a white screen that said 403 forbidden.
At 12:30 a.m., its homepage turned black and played "Gugur Bunga", a national song honoring deceased heroes, for 15 minutes. The screen said, "Stop Hoax, Don't LIE TO the Indonesian People, Return to true journalistic ethics [and] obey the press council. Don't [bow to] PEOPLE who PAY. Deface By @xdigeeembok."
When clicked, it led directly to the @xdigeeembok Twitter account, which has existed since July 2009 and has some 465,000 followers.
At 12:51 a.m., the Twitter account @xdigeeembok tweeted #KodeEtikJurnalistikHargaMati (#JournalismCodeofEthicsFixedPrice).
A number of Twitter users commented with screenshots of the hacked tempo.co site. The @xdigeeembok account replied to one of them, saying "Intimate Warning".
At 1:24 a.m., the black screen turned white, with the message, "We'll be back soon!", followed by, "Sorry for the inconvenience but we're performing some maintenance at the moment. If you need to you can always contact us, otherwise, we'll be back online shortly! – The Team."
At 01:30 a.m., tempo.co was back to normal, with the site back to its usual appearance.
At 02:26 a.m., the site was once again attacked but five minutes later, the Tempo team took back the site.
On Friday morning, @xdigeeembok posted a number of tweets, claiming to be responsible for the hacks.
"Just wait. I will stick boogers onto your system again," it replied to a Tempo article.
Tempo.co chief editor Setri Yasra confirmed the incident, saying that whether it was an attack or joke, such hacks could be dangerous as it interfered with journalistic activities and press freedom.
"We condemn anyone who tries to interfere with the work of the media. Press products are not always perfect, but we have a controlled mechanism, we have a press council to go to," Setri told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Setri considered the hacks an attempt to silence the media, but the media group had yet to identify what had triggered the attack.
"We feel that we don't have any special or exclusive [writing] on a theme. We just go with the flow, work and cover stories like other media outlets. All the more, our concentration right now is the pandemic."
Setri said the news company was still discussing the incident internally and conducting an internal audit of its Information and Technology (IT) security system, before determining whether or not to process the case legally.
Separately, National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Choirul Anam said the hack was "a serious threat" to democracy and human rights in Indonesia, calling on authorities to track down those responsible.
"If there is a hacking network, dismantling the network is imperative. Without maximum law enforcement and dismantling the network to its roots, this can turn into a scourge for the nation organizing its democracy and human rights," Choirul said in a statement on Friday.
Choirul argued that Tempo has delivered high-quality stories and information to the wider public under the journalism code of ethics. He hoped that Tempo and other media outlets would not be affected by this incident.