The official website of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was hacked Sunday night, more than a month before the May 9 polls, raising fears that the voting machines may also be compromised. The poll body’s database was leaked online after hackers defaced its website, www.comelec.gov.ph. Comelec officials, however, allayed public fears about the security of the automated election system (AES) after the hacking. The database was published on two mirror sites by a hacker group affiliated with Anonymous Philippines. The hackers urged the Comelec to implement the security features of the vote counting machines. The group said the database has a file size of around 340 gigabytes, with some of the tables supposedly encrypted by the Comelec. “But we have the algorithm to decrypt those data,” the hackers said. “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,” said Anonymous.
The group warned the Comelec that it would be closely monitoring how the poll body would administer the elections. The hackers asked the Comelec to ensure that the May 9 polls would be credible.
A netizen expressed concern on the leak as the database might contain personal information, such as the names and birthdays of registered voters. According to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, the database that was leaked on social media was actually available for public use.
Jimenez said the website was restored at around 3:15 a.m. yesterday. He said the hacking affected the precinct finder, video demonstration and the search function of the website. “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.