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Opinion

On the reported hacking of COMELEC Servers

NAMFREL

Information such as the reported hacking of Commission on Election (COMELEC) Servers has to be carefully vetted.

The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) had to first check on the veracity of the claims made in the news report. NAMFREL has been informed that data reportedly downloaded appear to be those that will be used to set up the automated election system (AES) and that the preparation of the said data set has yet to be completed.

Stakeholders including candidates, political parties, observation groups, and IT professionals, have raised concerns as the reported hacking of COMELEC Servers raises questions of integrity of the AES that will be used for the upcoming national and local elections and cast doubt on the capability of COMELEC to secure the elections.

The issue must be fully investigated and resolved at the soonest time possible.

NAMFREL recommends that COMELEC consult with IT security experts in investigating and resolving the reported incident.

Moving forward, NAMFREL recommends to the COMELEC to set up an Incident Response Team (IRT), if it has not done so yet, whose primary responsibility includes developing a proactive incident response plan, conducting vulnerability assessment of the COMELEC’s technology infrastructure including the AES, resolving system vulnerabilities, implementing strong information security practices, and addressing information security incidents.

The AES is a mission critical system and any reported incident of hacking into the AES must be quickly responded to. Among other plans that the IRT must develop is a quick response communications plan that will cover incidents like the 7-hour data outage which happened in 2019 and the recently reported hacking incident.

NAMFREL is the first citizen-led election monitoring organization in the world, and it has been accredited by COMELEC as its citizens’ arm since the 1984 Batasang Pambansa Elections.

NAMFREL has filed before the COMELEC in October 2021 a Petition for Accreditation as COMELEC citizens’ arm for the 2022 National and Local Elections. NAMFREL hopes that its participation and contribution to COMELEC’s efforts would help improve voter confidence, and eventually increase the number of Filipinos who would turn out to vote in the 2022 NLE.

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