House website still down over hacker attacks
May 23, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1294 articles)

House website still down over hacker attacks

MANILA, Philippines – Daily hacker attacks have forced the continued shutdown of the website of the House of Representatives as Congress prepares for the canvassing of votes for president and vice president this week.

Sources from the House said the attacks have been continuing, which is why the chamber’s information department is having difficulty activating the site before the scheduled start of canvassing on Wednesday.

“The aim is to open the website before canvassing starts,” the source said.

The website is supposed to regularly post the results of the canvassing while in progress.

The website has been shut down for over two weeks for maintenance and security upgrades following daily hacking attempts that worsened immediately after the May 9 elections.

The Department of Science and Technology earlier alerted the House information technology department several days before the elections that its website was being attacked.

The still unidentified hackers breached the website a few times before, but the House IT department was able to fend them off.

However, the attacks surged immediately after the polls, with as many as 10 to 20 hacking attempts daily, the sources said.

Last week, the recorded daily attacks exceeded 100, the sources said. They said the breaching attempts are apparently local in origin.

“But those ordering the attacks can be foreign. They can easily mask the source of the attacks,” one of the sources said.

They said the attacks apparently have something to do with the canvassing of votes for president and vice president to be jointly conducted by the House and the Senate, which will convene as National Board of Canvassers on May 25.

Last May 9, Senate President Franklin Dillon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. led the initialization of the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) to be used for canvassing the votes for president and vice president where the materials to be used were opened and checked, and the laptop switched on.

Officials witnessed the initialization and inspection from Congress, the Commission of Elections, and representatives of the presidential and vice presidential candidates.

While the CCS is independent and separate from the House IT system, the results of the canvassing will be posted on its website manually as votes are tallied.

Any disruption of the posting of the tallied votes could generate confusion among the public, cast doubt on the integrity of the process, or even trigger the suspension of canvassing, sources warned.

They said the hacking could also be part of attempts to mine passwords and data from the House system.

Last March 27, after several attempts, local and foreign hackers breached the Comelec database and released sensitive data from 55 million registered voters, including 1.3 million passport data and 15.8 million fingerprints.

Trend Micro, a global security software company, said the defacement and subsequent leak of the Comelec’s entire database online “may turn out as the biggest government-related data breach in history.”

Source | Philstar