Comelec probes alleged data breach in its servers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — The Commission on Elections is investigating allegations of hacking which may have "compromised" voter data and other information relating to the May 9 polls, its spokesperson James Jimenez said.

Jimenez questioned the hacking claim made by Manila Bulletin on Monday that an unidentified group of hackers was "able to breach the servers of the Comelec, downloading more than 60 gigabytes of data that could possibly affect the elections" on Jan. 8.

He said the data, which reportedly included passcodes from vote-counting machines "still does not exist in Comelec systems simply because the configuration files — which include usernames and PINs — have not yet been completed."

Jimenez also noted that the online report did not provide proof of verification, questioning the veracity of the hacking claim.

"As for the rest of the allegations made, please note that the article offers scant substantiation for its assertions despite claiming that the authors had 'verified there was an ongoing hack,'" he said.

"We invite the authors to shed light on their allegations, particularly with regard to the 'verification' they claim to have carried out," the spokesman added. "Considering that 'news' like this could potentially damage the credibility of the elections, the Comelec stands ready to pursue all available remedies against those who — either deliberately or otherwise — undermine the integrity of the electoral process."

Jimenez did not confirm whether Manila Bulletin reached out to him regarding the incident, as stated in the online report.

The Comelec said it would continue its validation efforts and assured the public of "full and scrupulous" compliance with the Data Privacy Act and cooperation with the National Privacy Commission.

The tandem of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan, who are running for president and vice president, respectively, asked the poll body to immediately take steps to ensure that data breach and any similar incidents will not affect the integrity of the upcoming elections.

The Comelec in December last year finished its final version of programs that will run the May elections.

CNN Philippines' Currie Cator contributed to this report.