Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – Representatives from news websites tempo.co and tirto.id visited the Jakarta Police headquarters on Tuesday to report recent cyberattacks they have encountered.
"As the owner of tirto.id, I feel like my house has been ransacked by thieves. Therefore, I've made the police report [today] in the hope of finding the perpetrators," tirto.id editor in chief Atmaji Sapto Anggoro said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He explained that someone had broken into the media company's website and deleted at least seven articles, including some that scrutinized the coronavirus drug development involving the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Indonesian Military (TNI). The attack occurred on Friday.
Tempo.co chief editor Setri Yasa, meanwhile, said the website was not accessible starting on Thursday midnight. The hacker took down the homepage replacing it with a statement that read "Stop hoaxes. Don't lie to the Indonesian people, return to true journalistic ethics, obey the Press Council. Don't [bow to] people who pay. Defaced by @xdigeembok."
The problem was resolved by at around 2:26 a.m. the @xdigembook Twitter account claimed to be responsible for the hacks on the following morning. It also replied to one of the Tempo articles, saying "Just wait. I will stick boogers onto your system again."
Tempo.co, which is a part of Tempo Media Group that also publishes Koran Tempo daily and Tempo weekly magazine, claimed to have suffered material and other losses because of the attack, hence it had filed the report to the police.
In their reports, they said the hackers had violated the 1999 Press Law by hindering the work of journalists, as well as the 2016 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law by destroying or removing electronic information.
The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), tempo.co and tirto.id's lawyer in the case, hoped that the police could soon proceed with their investigation and find the perpetrators to protect press freedom in the country.
"We want the police to be serious in handling our clients' reports to prove that the state is there to protect the rights of its citizens," LBH Pers director Ade Wahyudin said.
The social media account of a University of Indonesia (UI) epidemiologist, Pandu Riono, was also hacked previously. He is known to be critical of the government's COVID-19 related policies, such as tourism promotion amid the pandemic and the ineffectiveness of rapid antibody tests that have become a requirement for traveling.
Prior to the hacking, the scientist criticized Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, for not reporting its potential vaccine to the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to undergo clinical trials, but handing it over to BIN and TNI instead.