Airport websites in Vietnam were hit by cyberattacks on 29 July. The attacks were attributed to China-based hackers, who defaced the website of the state-owned Vietnam Airlines.

A self-styled hacker group called China 1937CN Team claimed responsibility for the hack. The group also said the attack was a "warning message" to Vietnam and Philippines. China, Vietnam and Philippines are amongst the countries involved in a dispute over territorial rights in the South China Sea, which China claims for itself.

The cyberattacks were first detected at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. The hackers reportedly compromised the airports' audio and video systems, in an attempt to show offensive and threatening messages, including claims that the East Vietnam Sea belonged to China.

Vietnam's deputy minister of transport Nguyen Nhat told Vietnam's Tuoi Tre newspaper that the authorities were eventually able to successfully halt the cyberattacks.

An unnamed source of the Vietnam Airlines reportedly admitted that the airline's website had been hacked and officials did not know how long the hackers had control over it. More than 400,000 passengers' data was left vulnerable and available to the hackers.

"We are trying to restore data and cannot comment at the moment whether the data has been leaked to outside sources," the source added.

The cyberattacks follow a string of hacks against the Philippine government's websites. The attacks also come amid strained international relations, following The Hague's recent verdict on the South China Sea, which rejected China's historic claims on the vast areas of the disputed waters.

Chinese hacktivists suspected in cyberattack and defacement of Vietnam airports' websites
A self-styled hacker group called China 1937CN Team claimed responsibility for the hack. iStock