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Comelec working with NPC, DOST to beef up cybersecurity after 'Comeleak'

The Commission on Elections has been working with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) to beef up its information system following the hack of its voters' database last March.

Comelec chair Andres Bautista on Tuesday said the poll body has taken several remedial measures to protect its database and mitigate the damage caused by the security breach, which supposedly exposed the private information of some 55 million voters.

"To ensure [the hack] doesn't happen to us again, we've been working with the National Privacy Commission and participated in several hearings. We've also been working with the DOST and have gotten advice from them on how to strengthen cybersecurity," Bautista told lawmakers during deliberations on the Comelec's proposed P3.3-billion budget for 2017.

In addition to working with concerned government agencies, Bautista said the poll body has also tapped private entities for assistance, although he did not elaborate.

On March 27, members of the groups Anonymous Philippines and LulzSec Pilipinas defaced the Comelec website and hacked into the database containing personal identifiable information of 55 million voters, respectively.

In a matter of days, the whole database was posted online by LulzSec Pilipinas and was made available for the public’s downloading.

The incident was considered by information technology (IT) communities and companies as one of the biggest data breaches in recent history.

Barely a month after the Comelec’s website was compromised in what has come to be known as "Comeleak," the hackers launched a website which would allow people to search through the leaked data.

Following the hack, Bautista said the Comelec set up "voter care hotlines" to receive complaints from voters whose personal information might have been compromised.

However, he said no one has called up the hotline to air any grievances.

"We're pleased to report that since the hotlines were set up, we have not really received any complaints," Bautista said.

While the Comelec continues to take up proactive measures to stem the damage caused by the hack, Bautista believes the effect might not have been as grave as feared.

"So far, it would seem the damage has been minimal," he said. —KBK, GMA News