Philippine elections to go ahead despite massive hacking scandal
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Philippine elections to go ahead despite massive hacking scandal

THE Philippine national elections have been marred by a massive personal data leak involving 55 million registered voters, but officials say elections would still proceed despite it.

Government agents late Wednesday arrested a 23-year-old suspect in connection to the case. The alleged hacker, who was a fresh information technology (IT) graduate, was nabbed in his home in Manila.

Officials said they were still hunting down his alleged accomplices.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said Friday that the automated elections will be run on a different server, not on the one that was hacked, and that experts say the polls are unlikely to be compromised.

The leaked data included voters’ names, birthdays, home addresses, email, parents’ full names and, in some cases, passport details and text markers of fingerprints.

According to The Manila Times, following the attack, the Commission on Elections engaged foreign cybersecurity experts to make certain the integrity and security of the polling results and to prevent a recurrence of such hackings.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio Mendez and Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista on Thursday announced the suspect’s arrest.

The hacking compromised the personal information of 1.3 million registered overseas Filipino voters along with the fingerprints of 15.8 million other voters, exposing them to identity theft, according to internet security provider Trend Micro.

The paper also reported Bautista saying that the commission sought the assistance of software and computer giant Microsoft Corp. and other experts to prevent a similar attack.

“We are meeting with Microsoft. There are also cybersecurity experts from the UK,” he said.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press