20k hacking tries recorded on Comelec site

Commission on Election James Jimenez demonstrated to the beginner voters during the Launching of the series of the information drive on responsible voting of the youth in the 2022 local and national elections held at Marikina Convention Center, Marikina City on April 4 2022. Photos by John Orven Verdote

MORE than 20,000 cyberattack attempts to hack the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website were recorded by the Department of Information and Technology (DICT) before and during the May 9 elections.

Comelec acting spokesman John Rex Laudiangco disclosed on Saturday that the attempts to hack the automated election system, including the “election results” website, were done on May 8 and 9.

“They were able to prevent and block more than 20,000 attempted attacks on our website. There were lots of attempts to attack the Comelec website, but all of these were prevented by the DICT,” he added.

Laudiangco said the DICT continues to monitor all those who attempted to hack the Comelec website to the point that “they were able to identify certain IPs (internal protocols).

The IP address is a unique string of characters that identifies each computer using the IP to communicate over a network.

“They will be pursuing that in their cybercrime investigation,” he added.

The DICT, Laudiangco said, has yet to confirm if the attempts were done within or outside the country, or both.

Prior to the May 9 polls, the Comelec and DICT inked an agreement tapping the latter's expertise in information technology in providing transparency and security for the automated elections system (AES).

The agreement was in compliance with the government's cloud first policy. The policy assigned the DICT to harmonize and coordinate all national information communications and technology plans and ensure the security of the cloud infrastructure used in hosting the Comelec's online services.

The Comelec website had been hacked twice in the past, the last of which was two days before the May 2016 presidential elections.

The Comelec said the hackers defaced the Comelec website but did not inflict any material damage. They were also not able to intrude into the otherwise sensitive records of the Comelec. The hackers were later arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation.

Early this year, it was again reported that a group of hackers gained access to the Comelec website, which might have compromised sensitive voter information relative to the May 2022 elections.

Comelec, however, said that there was no evidence of any data breach as proven by the National Bureau of Investigation.

Meanwhile, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), the Comelec has moved closer to proclaiming the winning senators and party-list groups early next week, with only 24 more certificates of canvass (COCs) left to be counted.

The NBOC, presided by Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan, on Saturday was already done with the canvassing of 139 out of 173 COCs before it suspended its session at 5:00 p.m. It will resume at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Laudiangco reported that of the 24 COCs, 21 were from overseas absentee voting, while the rest were from local absentee voting.

He said that the three local COCs were from the local absentee voting, the vulnerable sectors' office and from the 63 barangay of North Cotabato. They will be manually transmitted.

Laudiangco is confident that canvassing would end Sunday and proceed with the proclamation on Monday.

He earlier said that the poll body is now preparing the guidelines for the proclamation of the senators and party-list groups.

He said that each senator-elect would be allowed three companions and two would be allowed for the for party-list groups, adding that health protocols would be implemented.

Laudiangco said that “definitely, senators will be proclaimed ahead of party-list groups,” owing to the computations that need to be done in the allocation of party-list seats.

But he said that the poll body is also exploring the idea of initially proclaiming some of the party-list groups who have already garnered the required votes, together with the 12 senators-elect.

He added that partial proclamation of party list groups if allowed would be limited to the upper tier, or those that gained the highest number of votes.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said it has received nearly half of the election returns from the total number of precincts.

Data shown on its Facebook page on Saturday showed that the PPCRV had received 52,066 election returns as of 10:30 a.m., which is 48.31 percent of the 107,785 total clustered precincts.

It had gathered 34,857 receipts from North and South Luzon, 10,033 from the National Capital Region, 5,778 from the Visayas, and 1,398 from Mindanao. It has yet to receive any election returns from overseas.

In its 5 p.m. bulletin, 45,135 new election returns have reached the PPCRV command center, with 30,727 of them already encoded and 30,235 of these already encoded and matched with transmitted election returns. However, 49 of these have not yet been compared and transmitted, while 203 have not been transmitted. In addition, 240 election returns will be revalidated.

The PPCRV's electronically transmitted results continue to be unchanged, using results from Friday at 2:17 p.m., with President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. leading the vote with 31,104,175 (58.74 percent) and Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo a distant second with 14,822,051 (27.99 percent).

The PPCRV's command center at the University of Santo Tomas continues to operate on a 24/7 basis and will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

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