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Fresh grad, 23, admits hacking Comelec site

FINALLY CAUGHT. The suspected hacker of the Comelec website is seen in the custody of the National
Bureau of Investigation on April 21, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Fresh from college, a 23-year-old information


technology graduate admitted that he hacked the Commission on Elections (Comelec)
website, leading to the biggest leak of personal data in Philippine history.

The suspect was arrested on Wednesday evening, April 20, in his house in Sampaloc,
Manila.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista confirmed on Thursday, April 21, that the suspect
remains in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Bautista refused to disclose the suspect’s identity until charges have been filed against
him.

Possible cases against the hacker include a violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act
of 2012.
Before a news conference on the arrest, journalists saw the alleged hacker being
escorted out of a media briefing room at the NBI at past 11 am on Thursday.

The suspect’s head was covered with a black handkerchief as men purported to be NBI
personnel shielded him from reporters.

Ronald Aguto Jr, chief of the NBI cybercrime division, said the suspect was arrested
Wednesday evening, April 20, in his house on the basis of a search warrant.

'No intention to harm'

Aguto said the suspect didn’t admit committing the crime at first. Initially, the NBI official
said, "he opted actually to remain silent."

Now, Aguto said, "He’s very cooperative and I think he has the intention of helping the
agency."

The NBI official added that based on their investigation, the suspect just wanted to show
the "vulnerability" of the Comelec website. He said he has "no intention to harm."

The suspect said he only wanted to ensure that the Comelec will implement the security
features of vote-counting machines (VCMs), Bautista said.

"We assured him na lahat ng security features na nakasaad sa ating automated election
law ay ipapatupad nitong 2016 elections. Sabi ko, hindi naman niya kailangang mag-
hack. Sana kung nagsulat na lang siya at sinulat niya sa amin 'yon ay masasagot
naman namin kaagad yung kanyang hinaing," Bautista said.

(I told him and assured him that all security features stated in our automated election
law will be implemented in the 2016 elections. I told him that he didn’t need to do the
hacking. If he just wrote us and addressed the letter to us, we would have immediately
addressed his concerns.)

Bautista said the suspected hacker has two accomplices whom he met through social
media.
IT grad, 23, arrested for Comelec
website hack (Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines - Law enforcers captured the alleged mastermind in the hacking and defacement of
the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website on Wednesday night.

Paul Biteng, a 23-year-old new graduate of information technology, was arrested by agents of the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at his house along G. Tuazon and Miguelin streets in Sampaloc,
Manila at past 7 p.m.

Agents also seized his personal computer, which will be subjected to digital forensic examination, to
check his activity before, during and after the hacking.

Biteng was arrested by virtue of a search warrant issued by a Malabon City court.

He will be slapped with charges for violation of Section 4A-1 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which
pertains to “illegal access to the whole or any part of a computer system without right.”

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista told reporters in a briefing yesterday that Biteng himself “admitted
that he defaced the website.”

“He wanted to show how vulnerable the website is to hacking,” Bautista said. “He wanted the Comelec to
make sure the security features of the vote counting machines would be implemented during the
election.”

The Comelec chief said Biteng should have just written the poll body and they would have addressed the
matter.

He said the NBI is also looking for Biteng’s two possible cohorts, although their participation is not yet
known.

Biteng does not belong to any political party, nor was he paid by anyone to do the hacking, according to
Bautista.

NBI director lawyer Virgilio Mendez said the agency will also apply for search warrants for the two
possible cohorts.

“Our efforts to unravel everything are continuous,” he said.

Dummy account
NBI cybercrime division head agent Roland Aguto Jr. said Biteng used a dummy account to perform the
defacement.

“The hacker did not use his real identity, location and Internet protocol (IP) address to do it,” he said.

Aguto said the agency had been looking for Biteng for three weeks, immediately after the Comelec
website was defaced.
But Biteng was “very cooperative” in the probe, Aguto said.

He added that the NBI will immediately come up with a report as soon as the forensic probe on Biteng’s
personal computer is done.

Technical group formed


The Comelec has formed a technical working group that will “try to recover the data that were
compromised, look after the safety and security of the website and make sure it never happens again.”

At dawn on March 27, hackers – who introduced themselves as members of hacktivist group Anonymous
Philippines – defaced the Comelec website, saying they wanted to show the hacking might expose the
vulnerability of the entire electoral process, which has gone automated.