Inside job? Alleged Comelec hackers 'looking for bug bounty'- expert

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2022 10:54 AM | Updated as of Jan 12 2022 01:18 PM

Comelec spokesperson Atty. James Jimenez oversees the canvassing of votes of the mock elections in Pasay City on Dec. 29, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Comelec spokesperson Atty. James Jimenez oversees the canvassing of votes of the mock elections in Pasay City on Dec. 29, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—A group of hackers who allegedly breached the servers of the Commission on Elections could be asking for a "bug bounty," the tech news editor of Manila Bulletin said Wednesday.

"I also talked about it with Comelec and told them it looks like these guys are looking for bug bounty," Art Samaniego, tech news editor of Manila Bulletin, told ANC's "Rundown". 

"A bug bounty is a term used by security professionals wherein a company gives something in return for the information that they get."

The Manila Bulletin was the first to report about alleged hackers breaching Comelec servers and downloading sensitive voter information, which include usernames and PINS of vote-counting machines.

Samaniego said an unnamed source told them of an "ongoing cyber espionage" last Jan. 8. The source provided them screenshots of active directory, which indicates the alleged hackers had full access to the system.

"Basta sinabi lang (They only said), there's an attack. They said there's an ongoing cyber espionage," he said.

He said they immediately informed Comelec about the alleged cybersecurity incident but the poll body has denied the alleged data breach, saying the data in question were not on their servers yet.

Samaniego said further study was needed on the files sent by the supposed informant.

"We need to study more on these files because 'yun nga puwedeng i-fabricate 'yung file but we need to know saan ba talaga galing 'to, anong pinagmulan nito and the hackers are willing to talk with Comelec about this one," he said.

(We need to study more on these files because it could be fabricated but we need to know where it came from and the hackers are willing to talk with Comelec about this one.)

He also dismissed insinuations it could be an inside job.

"The group of [Vice President] Leni [Robredo] are blaming the group of Bongbong and the group of Bongbong Marcos are blaming the group of Leni. So, all is well because everybody is blaming one another," he said. 

"Every political candidate already said their piece about the incident. So wala, mukhang hindi talaga siya konektado (It looks like it is not connected)."

"If this is a real hack, I don't think this is an inside job," he added.

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