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Is This the Worst Government Data Breach, Ever?

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Every single registered voter in the Philippines now his or her personal information exposed in a data breach. The number of registered voters in the country amounts to a staggering 55 million individuals, which ranks the breach as one of the worst governmental data breaches, ever.

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The entire database of the Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC), containing details of every registered voter in the country has been the target of a massive data breach.

The breach could very well be the largest governmental data breach of its kind, easily dwarfing the Office of Personal Management (OPM) hack in the United States that eventually saw the leak of personal data of some 20 million U.S. citizens.

An investigation by security firm Trend Micro revealed that a data dump subsequently shared by the hacking outfit behind the breach included sensitive, personally identifiable information (PII) such as fingerprint data and passport information.

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Hacktivists’ Warning

The entire episode began when the website of COMELEC was initially defaced by a hacker group, believed to be an offshoot of hacking collective Anonymous. The motivation of the hacking group was to persuade the country’s election commission to upgrade and bolster the security features deployed in the country’s voting machines. These machines will be used for the national elections on May 9.

A statement from Anonymous read:

What happens when the electoral process is so mired in questions and controversies? Can the government still guarantee that the sovereignty of the people will be upheld? We request the implementation of the security features in the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines.

Commission on Elections, we are watching! We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us!

The Data Breach

The second hacking outfit, believed to be known as LulzSec Pilipinas, proceeded to breach the commission’s database altogether.

The hacker group dumped the entire database online. The dump was soon available to download via multiple mirror links. In a marked effort to downplay the breach, a spokesperson for COMELEC claimed that no sensitive information was taken as a result of the breach.

The spokesman stated:

There is no sensitive information there. We will be using a different website for the election, especially for results reporting and that one we are protecting very well.

Despite such claims, an investigation by Trend Micro revealed that fingerprint data had indeed been leaked, along with large PII records, in the millions.

The investigation by Trend Micro revealed:

  • 3 million records of overseas Filipino voters, including their passport numbers and expiry dates.
  • The data for overseas citizens is in plain text, accessible by anyone.
  • A massive record of 15.8 million fingerprints.

The incident underlines the importance of prioritizing cybersecurity among governmental entities that typically involves entire databases of citizens’ data. Government agencies typically figure among the top 5 sectors frequently targeted by data breaches, alongside healthcare, education, retail and finance industries.

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Activism

Anonymous Inspired Comic ‘Hacktivist’ is Being Adapted for TV

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Hacktivist, a graphic novel inspired by global hacking activist collective Anonymous and created by actress Alyssa Milano will be adapted for the small screen at a time when another Anonymous-inspired TV show Mr.Robot, is garnering rave reviews.

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Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano, an actress who has appeared in feature films and network TV shows is known for taking definitive stances politically, will see her 2014 graphic novel ‘Hacktivist’ adapted as a television series.

According to Deadline, The CW network will be developing an adaptation of the graphic novel Hacktivist, created by Alyssa Milano. The concept for the cyber-thriller graphic novel was pitched by Milano to comic publisher Boom! Studios, only coming after Marvel and DC in controlling the largest library of comic book IPs.

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hacktivist

Hacktivist features two lead characters who run a successful social media company. The fictional characters are also hackers by night, inspired by popular hacktivist group Anonymous. Also, the protagonist in the comic was modeled after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, while the fictional company based on the real-life social media giant.

Speaking to the Daily Dot in an earlier interview, Milano revealed how the idea came about.

I became obsessed with the role of the media, and how it was being used as a tool for protest.

At the same time, Anonymous was using hacking skills to empower people. And I thought, ‘What if Anonymous wasn’t a group but one person?’ And that spiraled into, ‘What if Anonymous was one guy? What characteristics would he have?’ He’d have to be socially aware, a coder, have access, be compassionate.”

Hacking activists in various parts of the world tend to unify under the banner of ‘Anonymous’, a faceless, leaderless, decentralized group of anyone and everyone who takes up its name.

Some of Anonymous’ most prominent movements occurred on November 5, 2013. Millions of demonstrators in over 400 cities around the world jointly participated in the Million Mask March on the day that that remembered the Guy Fawkes Night. The Guy Fawkes mask is commonly seen as the symbol of Anonymous, with members of the group readily distinguishable in public by wearing the masks.

Anonymous has undeniably made its mark in the mainstream consciousness. Wildly popular and critically-acclaimed TV shows like Mr. Robot see its fundamental premise in hacker activism and the new TV adaption of ‘Hacktivist’ – directly influenced by Anonymous – will only further perpetuate the loosely-associated international hacktivist network.

 Images from Amazon, Flickr and Shutterstock.

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Activism

Anonymous Hacker Protesting Prosecution Begins Second Week of Hunger Strike

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In 2014, Anonymous hacker Martin Gottesfeld was allegedly involved in the hacking of Boston Children’s Hospital following the suspected mistreatment of one of its patients. Now, the alleged hacker has begun his second week of a hunger strike in prison to protest the assumed prosecution of the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz and the controversial child-custody case involving Justina Pelletier, reports Newsweek.

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Two and a half years ago, the hacker collective Anonymous released a video calling for attacks against the hospital. It was alleged that 15-year-old Justina Pelletier was being held against her will by the State of Massachusetts where she was ‘tortured physically and mentally.’

In a letter, Gottesfeld wrote that what happened to Justina Pelletier goes far beyond a medical or custody dispute, and beyond child abuse.

He wrote:

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Tragically, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of children have suffered horrific abuse at fraudulent places who have no legitimate right to call themselves ‘residential treatment programs.’

Two Demands Need to be Met

In order for his hunger strike to come to an end, Gottesfeld is asking for two demands to be met.

He wants the U.S. presidential candidates to make a promise ensuring that children are no longer mistreated, tortured, abused or killed, and he wants to end the style of prosecution that U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz waged against Aaron Swartz, Reddit co-founder. Swartz is reported to have committed suicide after he was accused of alleged computer crimes.

Speaking to Newsweek, Dana Gottesfeld, wife of Martin Gottesfeld said that he believes his conditions will be met.

She added:

If the candidates make the pledge but don’t make good on it, he plans to strike again.

He faces up to five years in prison and a $380,000 fine.

For now, it remains to be seen if the presidential candidates will consider his demands. Given Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s previous thoughts on what he thinks should be done to Edward Snowden if he became president, you have to wonder what kind of reception Martin Gottesfeld will receive from him.

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Anonymous India: Mobile Network Reliance Jio is Sharing Call Data with Advertisers

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The hacking group Anonymous is accusing the telecom network, Reliance Jio, of sharing its call data with advertisers in the U.S. and Singapore.

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In a recent blog post, Anonymous India exposes how Reliance Jio has been sharing customers’ call data with foreign companies. Anonymous India also provide steps to see how Reliance Jio are sharing the data.

It said:

A year ago we had posted about how Reliance Jio was sharing user location data with China. One year on and nothing has changed.

In the blog post, Anonymous India claims that data from Reliance Jio’s My Jio and Jio Dialer apps are being sent to an advertiser called Mad.Me. It further adds that Reliance Jio is utilizing a third-party software development kit and is failing to verify what data is being sent and collected through it.

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Reliance Jio Accused a Second Time

This, however, isn’t the first time that Anonymous India has accused Reliance Jio.

Last year the hacker activist group highlighted in another blog post that Reliance Jio had security flaws in its RJio chat app.

According to the 2015 post, data was being sent to a Chinese IP without encrypting it beforehand. This meant that while data was being leaked to the Chinese, anyone who wanted to could easily look into a conversation and know what was being shared or discussed, making it vulnerable to hackers.

Anonymous Never Forgets

When it comes to bringing the wrongs of others to light, the hacker activist group, Anonymous, are not afraid of standing up to the challenge.

At the beginning of the year, Anonymous targeted Thai police after protesting the conviction of two Burmese men who faced a death sentence in connection to two murdered British backpackers.

In May, Hacked reported that Anonymous had played a significant role in the target of financial institutions such as Greece’s central bank, which was targeted in a DDoS attack. According to the report, Anonymous consider central banks around the world as a ‘global banking cartel.’

In a bid to target those that it believes should be targeted, bringing greater awareness to the public, it seems that the hacktivist collective Anonymous won’t be stopping anytime soon.

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