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Hackers Target Guatemalan News Sites as Corruption Stories Mount

By: PanAm Post Staff - Apr 21, 2015, 3:45 pm

EspañolIn the wake of a corruption scandal in Guatemala implicating Vice President Roxana Baldetti and other high officials, local media outlets such as Guatevisión and República GT have been facing a spike in cyberattacks against their websites.

TV station Guatevisión reported that usual levels of between 100 and 500 online attacks a day have soared to 3,000 daily attempts to damage their online infrastructure, equaling 105,374 in the last 30 days.

According to figures given on the TV networks website, on Thursday, April 16, they experienced 2,064 hacking attempts, and the following day another 6,500 attacks were recorded. On Friday, the website became inaccessible, showing a “Error 404” message instead.

El escándalo de la SAT ha incrementado el rechazo al Gobierno de Otto Pérez (Pedrovisión-Noticias)
The SAT scandal has led to rising criticism of the government of President Otto Pérez Molina. (Pedrovisión-Noticias)

Online news outlet República GT claimed that between Sunday, April 19, and Monday, they suffered 688 attacks.

“They attempted to break in our databases to — we suppose — delete the content published on our site,” said the outlet. “Fortunately, thanks to the security measures we have, it hasn’t happened.”

In the case of the TV station, most the attacks have been traced back to the United States, while in the case of República GT the attacks came from computers located in Guatemala City.

Both outlets said that the attacks increase when they publish political investigations. Both have been reporting on the serious corruption scandal involving the Guatemalan customs service which broke on Thursday.

Nevertheless, hackers targeting news websites are theoretically not immune from repercussions. According to Rodolfo Orjales, chair of the Working Group on Cyber Crime at the Organization of American States, in Guatemala “there is now procedural or substantive legislation to prosecute cyber crimes.”

Last week, Guatemalan authorities arrested 21 people in relation to an ongoing probe into a tax and contraband fraud at the national customs agency. Among the arrested are current and former officials of the Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT) and Vice President Baldetti’s private secretary.

Sources: Guatevisión, República GT.