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DICT seeks probe on ‘hacking’ issue

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) recently ordered the Cybersecurity Bureau to conduct its investigation on the supposed hacking.

This comes following the report that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was hacked, where crucial files including usernames and personal identification numbers of vote-counting machines (VCM) were allegedly stolen.

“While the report has been denied by the Comelec through its spokesperson James Jimenez, it is in the interest of the citizenry and of the country to feel secure in the electoral process,” said acting DICT Secretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic.

“This is why I have tasked the DICT’s Cybersecurity Bureau to immediately and independently investigate these allegations and if indeed information has been stolen, there is still time to make the necessary changes and precautions to ensure a fair, honest and efficient election,” he added.

For his part, DICT Cybersecurity Bureau director Jose Carlos P. Reyes asserted that the team is already in close coordination with the Commission regarding the issue.

“The National Computer Emergency Response Team of the Cybersecurity Bureau has been coordinating and assisting the Comelec Information Technology Department Director Jeannie V. Flororita on this matter,” said Reyes.

Meanwhile, DICT assistant secretary for Cybersecurity Atty. Kristoffer L. Tiansay noted that “the upcoming elections have highlighted the need to tighten measures in protecting the information gathered from our stakeholders and preventing its use outside the intended purpose.”

To recall, a national daily reported on 10 January that at least 60 gigabytes of data were illegally acquired from the servers.

Amid the continued concerns for the effect of the alleged hacking on the integrity of the 2022 elections, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) issued orders for the appearance of the concerned parties in a clarificatory meeting on 25 January.

The Comelec for its part, stated last 11 January that it would release its findings on the alleged hacking before the end of the week.

Meanwhile, poll watchdog National Citizen’s Movement for a Free Election (Namfrel) urged the Comelec to immediately resolve the alleged hacking of its servers, noting that the poll body should consult with IT security experts in investigating and resolving the reported incident.

It also recommended to set up an incident response team, if it has not done so yet, whose primary responsibility includes developing a proactive incident response plan, conducting vulnerability assessment of the poll body’s technology infrastructure including the automated election system, resolving system vulnerabilities, implementing strong information security practices, and addressing information security incidents.

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