Comelec website hacked a month before polls

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The group Anonymous Philippines on Sunday, March 27, hacked the website of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a little over a month before the Philippines holds its 3rd automated elections.

Anonymous Philippines, which has hacked other government websites in the past, said it wants the Comelec to implement the security features of vote-counting machines (VCMs), previously known as precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

"We request the implementation of the security features of the PCOS machines," the hackers said. "Commission on Elections, we are watching!"

The hacked Comelec website displayed a warning from Anonymous Philippines as of 11:30 pm on Sunday. The poll body's website had still been functional at around 8 or 9 pm on the same day.

The site has been restored as of early morning of Monday, March 28.

The hacking comes after Comelec critics said they will file a new case against the poll body this week.

Digital signatures, voting receipts

The new case involves a security feature of VCMs – digital signatures – which, watchdogs said, "should belong to a person, not a machine."

Days before this, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Comelec to issue voting receipts as another security feature of VCMs. 

Critics said the poll body has ignored these security features since 2010, when the Philippines held its first automated elections.

In its message on the hacked Comelec website, Anonymous Philippines stressed that joining elections is "one of the processes by which people exercise their sovereignty."

"But 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?" the group said.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said that while the site has been up since 3:15 am on Monday, they "continue to scour the site" as part of their security measures. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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