Comelec Works to Assuage Public Alarm Over Biometrics, Hack Attacks

In the wake of a major hacking scandal, The Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) is working hard to assuage public alarm over fears related to biometric data having been compromised.

Comelec Works to Assuage Public Alarm Over Biometrics, Hack AttacksThe hack attacks occurred toward the end of March, with Anonymous Philippines defacing Comelec’s website and a group called Lulzsec Pilipinas posting putative voter data online soon after. In the attacks’ aftermath, Comelec insisted that voters’ biometric data, which had been collected in anticipating of this May’s elections, was not breached, though no official investigations had yet concluded at that time.

Speaking to reporters this week, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez insisted that no leaked data can be used for electoral fraud; and Comelec also posted an official statement online asserting that biometric information cannot be used to determine how voters have voted. The Commission also explained that while biometric technology won’t be used for voter authentication in the May elections, it has been linked to the identities in Comelec’s computerized voter lists, which should help to ensure that only eligible voters can cast ballots.

Meanwhile, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation have arrested a 23-year-old IT graduate they accuse of being a key actor in at least one of the hack attacks. Commenting on the arrest, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista asserted that the suspect has admitted to his involvement and that he did not receive material support to perform the attack, being motivated primarily by a desire to highlight digital security issues in relation to Comelec.

Sources: Rappler, Philippine Information Agency, The Philippine Star

April 22, 2016 – by Alex Perala