TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A new media outlet in Taiwan that went live last month has been hit by a cyberattack that saw all its articles vanish in a second and triggered fears over press freedom infringement.
RW News (菱傳媒), a news website inaugurated on Nov. 22, said on Facebook Monday (Dec. 6) that access to its backend had been blocked that afternoon before services were temporarily brought back.
However, on 4:44 p.m., alleged hackers mounted an all-out attack and deleted all the reports that had been published since the website went alive. The outlet believes the incident was a “warning,” as the numeral “4” has ominous connotations in Taiwanese culture.
Not only were the articles removed but RW News’ database was also breached, with all the data “cleared out.” The company said it has reported the case to the police, calling for an investigation into the “real perpetrators” behind what it implied was an assault on the freedom of the press.
As of 10:00 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 7), the news outlet's webpage remained blank.
RW News was established by a group of senior media workers dedicated to upholding respectable journalism that presents the facts without interference from political forces or business interests, according to its Facebook page. “R” means “right” and “W” denotes “wrong,” as the outlet endeavors to ensure the public’s right to know, it suggests.
In the Facebook post, RW News underscored its role in producing many in-depth investigative reports that have shed light on some of the most contentious political topics in Taiwan. They include the revelation about the sprawling family business of Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), a former KMT legislator and local heavyweight based in Taichung, as well as the controversy surrounding President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) PhD dissertation.