Second cyber attack in days targets The Shift News

The Shift is experiencing the second cyber attack in a week, both of which were aimed at taking the site down and denying public access to news reports on the site.

The attacks are occurring as The Shift News is publishing the results of an investigation on corruption in the government deal on three of Malta’s public hospitals.

The latest attack is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack aimed at flooding the network and denying access to users, rendering the service unavailable from time to time.

Readers may experience some problems trying to access content on the site. Work is ongoing to resolve any issues.

Meanwhile, in response, The Shift News will again give priority to its reports on the findings of the ongoing investigation, which revealed that the once-secret owners of Vitals Global Healthcare transferred the concession costing taxpayers €70 billion a year to Steward Healthcare for only €1.

This is the second attack in the days following the publication of reports on the probe, that also shows how the real owners of Vitals set up a number of offshore companies used to fund the takeover of suppliers in Malta, Technoline and Mtrace.

On 14 January, The Shift was again the target of a Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS), which involves flooding a website server with traffic from multiple sources until the site crashes.

Such attacks, especially when occurring with such intensity, are usually designed to take websites and servers offline at critical times.

International press and human rights organisations have criticised the attacks on The Shift News. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents over 600,000 international journalists, announced it had reported the attack to the Council of Europe’s (CoE) platform to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists.

The IFJ said it filed a report on the attack to the CoE together with its European counterpart, the European Federation of Journalists. Both organisations are members of global human rights network IFEX, which also supported the stand.

The Institute of Maltese Journalists, which is the national journalists’ organisation affiliated with the IFJ in Malta, has made no statement on the attacks despite the public stand taken by the international organisation.

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia reacted to the second attack on The Shift News on Friday, saying on social media that “such attacks on the press are unacceptable”.

Partit Demokratiku “strongly condemned the attack”, reiterating the party’s stand in October 2018 that “An independent Media guarantees the impartiality and strength of the first three pillars: the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature as the basis for democracy.”

The attack this week was also registered by Mapping Media Freedom, a project co-funded by the European Commission, tracking threats, violations, and limitations imposed on media professionals as they carry out their work in and around the EU.

This marks the third report on The Shift News registered by Mapping Media Freedom in the last 12 months. The first report refers to the threat of a SLAPP lawsuit by Henley & Partners made only a few weeks after The Shift News’ was launched a year ago.

Another report on threats to press freedom in Malta registered by Mapping Media Freedom refers to Parliament Speaker Anglu Farrugia’s ruling ordering the content of a news report changed.

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom called on the Maltese government to take the threat seriously and investigate the attacks on The Shift News.

Find out what the investigation revealed in ‘The Big Sell Out’ series.


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