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PIA Press Release

IT specialist warns of danger of hacking in automated elections

by Redjie Cawis

Baguio City (6 February) -- Ballot snatching, 'dagdag- bawas' and the use of guns, goons and gold will not major problem this election year. But an Information Technology Specialist warns danger of possible "high tech" cheating in the upcoming May 2010 automated elections.

In an interview with Louie Segwaben, an IT specialist of the Education Center for Australia based in Baguio City, he said the security features set by the Commission on Elections and the Smartmatic could still be breached and can occur during the Election Day itself.

Network security of the of the first ever automated elections is very important said Segwaben. Even with the security features that was provided by the COMELEC and Smartmatic in the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, hackers could still work on several breaches.

Segwaben explained that the data base of information is still not safe and that data transfer from the voting or polling precinct to the designated COMELEC servers could be still be hacked.

He explained that changing of results of election from the local level when sent or transferred via internet could be altered by the black hat hackers when it reaches the mother servers of data in the polling precinct centers. These black hat hackers or known as disruptors of data in the World Wide Web could change data or numbers of votes when transmitted from a computer to another computer or the main server or the COMELEC.

It could also be possible that when data is transferred it could be diverted to other servers since it is very easy for technical people to change ip addresses of computers and the Internet.

The hacking of data base is mostly done by computer programmers and IT experts since most of the data are too technical for most people, Segwaben said.

In a demo of the COMELEC here in Baguio City last week, they laid out several security features of the automation of elections. The Comelec presented security features on the hardware or the PCOS machine that will be used including biometrics and keys of the machine. Even the paper to be used during election has its own security feature.

The COMELEC and the Smartmatic have been testing data transfer in several areas now including the far municipalities of Bakun and Kapangan in Benguet and Abra to the COMELEC office in Manila to test signals of networks and internet capabilities of mountainous areas such as the Cordillera Region.

Segwaben recommended to the COMELEC the testing of data base management and transfer before the election to prevent alteration of the number of votes and the results of winning candidates during the Election Day on May 10.

Meanwhile, ECA with the city government of Baguio will run an Australian IT Exhibit on February 21 at the Baguio Convention Center and it will feature network security and data base management that could be useful to the voting public. (PIA) [top]

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