NBI arrests 2nd hacker in Comelec data breach

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested a second suspect in the hacking of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website and the subsequent leak of voters' database.

In a press conference on Friday, Comelec chairperson Atty. Andres Bautista identified Jonnel De Asis as one of the leaders of Anonymous Philippines, a rogue group of hackers who defaced the Comelec website last March 27. The group also stole the personal data records of some 54 million registered voters.

Bautista said De Asis, a 23-year-old fresh graduate of information technology, has admitted to hacking the website in a bid to prove its vulnerability.

Ronald Aguto, head of NBI Computer Crimes Division, added that De Asis is also responsible for uploading the 430-gigabyte voters' database on a publicly accessible website, using the alias Lulz Security group.

"Initial investigation disclosed that he was the one who downloaded the file from the Comelec website and the one who leaked it to the public," De Aguto told ANC's "Dateline".

Aguto said De Asis was arrested in his home in Para├▒aque, following the intensive cyber and physical surveillance of the NBI. The agency has confiscated the suspect's personal computer and mobile phone as evidence.

His cohort, 20-year-old Paul Biteng, also known as "PhantomHacker Khalifa," was arrested last April 21. He is facing charges for violations of the Cybercrime Prevention Act specifically on access, data interference and illegal use of devices.

Aguto said they are still on the lookout for a third suspect in the hacking. The NBI will also go after individuals who downloaded the leaked voters' database.

'Comelec data leak like giving car keys to a thief'

The NBI official also said they are investigating if the hackers are connected with a powerful group that could have more sinister motives for the cyber attack.

"We are looking at the possibility that this group is being used by other groups. But so far, we haven't seen a link between a group of politicians connected to this group," he said.

Aguto also mentioned that the supposed Malacan├▒ang account that seeded the voters database via another website is only a masked account.

The NBI is also closely coordinating with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in probing the foiled attempts of cyber thieves to hack its own website.

Aguto cannot tell yet if the same group of hackers is behind the hacking attempts on the websites of the poll body and the bank regulator.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) as also secured the help of various government agencies and even the United States government in its investigation of the theft and leakage of voters' registration records. -- With a report from Jonhson Manabat, radio dzMM

READ: DOJ seeks US help on Comelec data leak