Palace official to DOST: Why not hire Comelec hacker?

Internet security image from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – A Palace official is not ruling out the possibility of government tapping the services of the 23-year-old hacker responsible for Commission on Elections (Comelec) data leak.

Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, considered the possibility when it was raised to him in an interview on radio dzRB on Saturday, April 23.

Asked if it would be possible for the government to hire the Comelec hacker to protect state websites, Quezon said, "That's a very good idea and I'm hoping ICTO (Information and Communications Technology Office) and you Department of Science and Technology and others will look into that."

He explained that this would be an opportunity to channel expertise in a positive way, and cited as an example fraud expert-turned-government worker Frank Abagnale who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, Catch Me if You Can.

"I hope it (possibility) will be taken notice of by our authorities because it's a very clever way to make use of the knowledge of people to help improve our security," Quezon said.

The hacker, a 23-year-old fresh from college, told the National Bureau of Investigation and the Comelec that he meant no harm and only wanted to expose the system's vulnerabilities. His accomplices have yet to be caught.

Although he expressed his interest in putting the hacker's skills to good use, Quezon still assured Filipinos that the government was working to beef up its information security.

"The government has been pushing a policy of encouraging government offices na ilipat 'yung mga servers nila to a government server para nga mas maproktetahan, mas ma-supervise, at maging mas secure ang mga protocols nito," he said.

(Now, the government has been pushing a policy of encouraging government offices to move their servers to a government one so we can better protect, supervise, and secure these protocols.)

The attention to government's online security comes after hackers took over the Comelec website and download and leaked its voter database. (READ: Comelec data leak puts Filipino voters 'at risk' – Trend Micro)

Later, a new website appeared leaking information on Philippine voters, causing concern among government offices and the general public. It was later taken down through efforts of Philippine authorities, aided by their US counterparts. (READ: Is Comelec liable for website data leak?)

The Comelec has apologized for the leak.–