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Comelec shrugs off hacking

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Comelec shrugs off hacking

No sensitive info accessed; hackers got nothing of value, says poll body
/ 01:49 AM March 29, 2016
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

HACKERS broke into and defaced the Commission on Elections’ website late Sunday night, but the Comelec said no sensitive information was compromised.

The poll agency on Monday assured voters it could protect their votes and its transmission servers would be very secure come election day.

“The situation of the Comelec website is different from the results website that we will be launching… the election results website will be very secure. It will be hosted somewhere else. It will have its own set of security features which are different and of a higher quality than the one we are using now,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview with reporters.

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“Again, I want to emphasize that the database in our website is accessible to the public. There is no sensitive information there. We will be using a different website for the election, especially for results reporting and that one we are protecting very well,” he added.

On Sunday night, the Comelec’s official website, www.comelec.gov.ph, was broken into by the group calling itself Anonymous Philippines.

In a message, the group warned the Comelec it would be closely watching how the poll agency would be running the coming elections.

 ‘We are watching!’

“What happens when the electoral process is so mired in questions and controversies? Can the government still guarantee that the sovereignty of the people will be upheld? We request the implementation of the security features in the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines,” Anonymous said.

“Commission on Elections, we are watching! We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us!”

A different hacker group called “Lulzsec Pilipinas” claimed on Facebook it had leaked the entire Comelec database.

The defacement of the Comelec website also elicited reactions from different groups, including poll watchdog Kontra Daya.

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“The hacking of the Comelec website is a timely Easter message to our election officials to repent for their shortcomings,” Kontra Daya said in a statement.

The watchdog said the incident exposed the Comelec’s vulnerabilities and put into question the security features of the automated election system (AES).

“What is our assurance the elections will not be rigged to favor certain candidates? The sanctity of the ballot must be protected, most especially in a situation where there is a tight race in the presidential and vice presidential contests,” Kontra Daya said.

More transparency

It reiterated its demand that the Comelec be more transparent in its operations to assuage any doubts the people may have.

“It must implement the long-demanded minimum safeguards. As it stands now, the foreign-controlled AES cannot be relied on to accurately reflect the vote of the people,” the group said.

The Comelec website was back to normal on Monday morning. Some of the site’s applications, however, were still disabled, including the precinct finder and search functions.

Jimenez said technicians were scouring the system and databases to make sure they were free of malware.

He said all of the poll body’s databases were intact and secure. He said their technicians were working to restore the site’s full functionality.

“The Comelec’s information technology department and its web development team are working to restore all the databases in the Comelec website as soon as possible,” he said.

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TAGS: Comelec website hacking, Elections 2016, hackers, Nation, news
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