A MONTH before the Philippines is scheduled to hold its third national automated elections, local hacking group Anonymous PH defaced the website of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday, March 27.
The hacktivist group, which is notorious for hacking government websites and even celebrity accounts posted a message to the Comelec, asking intensive security for the new vote-counting machines (VCMs) that will be used for the automated national elections.
“What happens when the electoral process is so mired with questions and controversies? Can the government still guarantee that the sovereignty of the people is upheld? We request the implementation of the security features on the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines,” Anonymous PH said in its statement on the upcoming automated elections.
Fearing that the hacking incident would leak private information from registered voters, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez assured that all sensitive information was stored carefully and wouldn’t affect the processing of the automated elections.
“The website’s interface changed. But for the most part, the database are intact. As a standard procedure with any intrusion, we are taking the time to make sure that we remove all the malware codes that were penetrated,” Jimenez said regarding the incident.
Anonymous PH urged the Comelec to execute wide security features stating that the elections is “one of the processes by which people exercise their sovereignty.” In response, Comelec said it will provide measures to secure the upcoming automated elections.
Before the incident, the Supreme Court ordered the Comelec to issue voting receipts as another security feature of VCMs.
Also included as a security feature of the new voting machines are digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors, who will certify the poll returns and an ultraviolet lamp that makes sure fake ballots are not inserted into the machine.
The poll body’s website, however, remained functional at around 8 or 9 pm on the same day. The site was officially restored as of early morning the next day on Monday, March 28.