MANILA — Police on Saturday arrested a group of hackers allegedly behind the breach of the operations of Smartmatic, the technology provider of the upcoming May 9 polls.
In a statement on Monday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that its Anti-Cybercrime group nabbed members of the “XSOX” group in separate entrapment operations in Imus, Cavite, and Santa Rosa, Laguna.
The group was previously tagged by Sen. Imee Marcos, who claimed last month that XSOX posted about a Smartmatic employee who allowed a certain group to copy the content of his work laptop.
Three people linked with the XSOX group were arrested in the operation: Joel Adajr Ilagan aka “Borger,” Adrian de Jesus Martines aka “Admin X,” and Jeffrey Cruz Limpiado aka “Brake/Vanguard Universe/LRR.”
According to the PNP, the suspects violated Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Crime Act of 2012, by hacking the systems of Smartmatic and the websites of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR).
The group was also accused of hacking credit cards and other online transactions, as well as creating ransomware against some local commercial websites.
“We will continue to monitor and closely watch any other similar illegal activities online, especially with respect to the coming elections,” PNP said.
Last March, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Marcos flagged Smartmatic for a breach in its operations.
"It may not be technically hacking. However, we feel that it compromises the processes and operations of Smartmatic in very serious ways,” said Marcos, whose brother Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is running for president.
“We don’t know but the potential for a very serious security breach is now there because it appears Smartmatic has all these contractual employees who have access to very confidential data, locations and other facilities," Marcos told reporters on March 17.
Smartmatic has since denied these allegations.
But earlier in April, the company fired an employee allegedly behind the breach, Comelec said.