“GAWA yang tau”, is what I heard from people casting their doubts on the credibility and reliability of the automated election system this coming May.  

Their pessimism was raised to a level high when on Sunday, hackers defaced a government agency website. It is the fifth public entity since last month to be attacked by Information Technology experts. The Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda) website was hacked.

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Hackers had also victimized the Web sites of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), and Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).

Not to curtail the right of the public to access on public information, hacking a government portal is of serious matter that the government should look into. Protecting some vital information is also a governmental duty so as not to compromise relevant data that might affect the government’s operation.

If hackers can do it to the said government offices, they can likewise have their foray on the agencies involved in safeguarding our national security, say the AFP and the PNP.

In the US, the Pentagon computer system was hacked once. It made the US government strengthen its barriers against IT experts who “challenge” their skills on high technology gadgetry. The latest hacking incident was a clear indication and cause for alarm for the government.

The hacked Tesda site showed a black and white illustration of a man giving the “dirty finger" supposedly directed against several “abusive" military and police units.

Have we lost to our memory the “love bug” virus that has “infected” computers and electronic gadgets worldwide? The virus was created by a Filipino IT expert who instantly sent himself to the doorsteps of fame in the world of computers and the worldwide web network.

A job announcement allegedly from VenturesLink, one of the partners of Smartmatic-TIM in the automation of the elections has invited technicians across the country to be part of its team. We should consider somehow the fact that the May 2010 election is near and that it is the first-ever automated selection of our next national and local political leaders. The Commission on Elections and other government entities need to take the necessary precautions to secure their web sites.

Government institutions which are not yet hit by network attacks do need to take the necessary precautions especially the national poll body because of the automated nature of the next elections in May.

Despite the Comelec’s statement that it has sufficient safeguards to protect the election’s computer-based process and the outcome of the elections from hackers, many still doubt the foolproof-ness of this coming “proto-type” poll. It went further saying that the said system to be used in the coming automated polls would be difficult for hackers to bypass the system’s security mechanisms.

This coming national and local election is a great test for the poll body’s and the system’s credibility. It also the test for hackers who would dare try even at this early, to “enter” and manipulate the electronic poll system.

If people can hack government’s web system, they would surely push their limits in attempting to attack the first ever automated democratic exercise.