Impossible for hackers to alter poll results–NBI
This was how the head of the National Bureau of Investigation cybercrime division replied to the question of whether or not it was possible for hackers to alter the results of the May 9 national elections.
“It’s really difficult and nearly impossible to influence the results of the elections through hacking,” NBI head agent Ronald Aguto told the Inquirer in an interview on Tuesday.
Several sectors have expressed concerns about the integrity of the election results after hackers successfully broke into the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) voters database. The hackers then uploaded at least 55 million voter’s personal details on the Internet.
Personal details such as voters’ full names, birth dates, addresses, registration details such as precinct numbers and voter identification numbers were made public on the net. Also, individual information such as height, weight and passport number, fingerprint and topography were also included.
Aguto’s team recently arrested three young men who reportedly confessed to hacking the Comelec data base, defacing the poll body’s website and uploading the voters data.
But the NBI cybercrime head backed the Comelec view that despite the data breach, the automated election system remains secure.
He said it would be “nearly impossible” to hack and tamper with the transmission of election results because of the speed of transmission and the fact that each voting machine had its own unique encrypted codes. There were also counter checking mechanisms.
“Transmission through the precinct count optical scanner (PCOS) occurs in seconds, and the results are encrypted with the use of a virtual private network (VPN), which further protects sensitive data, he explained.
He said that assuming a sophisticated hacker could intercept the transmittal, he or she could only do this one at a time. With thousands of PCOS machines transmitting in seconds, “there’s no time to rig the results,” Aguto reasoned.
He added that the data would also be encrypted and it would again take time to decode the individual series of numbers and codes. Every machine would have a different encryption key.
“These are numbers that have specific meaning so it’s really nearly impossible to rig the election results through hacking,” Aguto further argued.