Cabaero: ‘Insecure’ sites of politicians

MORE than half of the websites of Filipino politicians have no security features, making it risky for people who leave personal details and hard to know if these sites are authentic.

A study released last March 7 by Comparitech, a United Kingdom-based company that conducts technology research, said 68.18 percent of the websites of Filipino politicians are “insecure” as these are without valid SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates, meaning visitors’ connections to those sites are not private nor secure.

This becomes problematic when users are asked to input personal details such as name and email address on the website, the report found at said. Even if the website does not have forms to be filled, the absence of an SSL certificate and an HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) implementation to secure the transfer of information over a computer could compromise the integrity of the data.

For the Filipino voter, an insecure website of a politician means not only security risks but also how candidates for the midterm elections this May do not give importance to the quality of information they provide. Having a website means having a venue to communicate with the public, the voters. Not having a secure or professional website means not giving importance to this communication platform and, by extension, the message.

The Comparitech report said it assessed the personal websites of more than 7,500 politicians in 37 countries across the globe. Of those websites, 60.75 percent did not use valid SSL certificates. About half of the politicians’ websites include some sort of form input where users can register accounts, log in, sign up for newsletters or send a message. These forms often request the user to enter personal information. None of these interactions can be properly protected without HTTPS.

Even websites that don’t include form input fields should ideally use HTTPS to encrypt the contents of what users see on a particular site, it added. The SSL certificate authenticates websites, helping to ensure voters that they’re on the politician’s genuine site and not a fraudulent one.

The Comparitech report said obtaining an SSL certificate and implementing HTTPS are not difficult nor expensive so politicians have little excuse for not properly securing their sites.

In the Philippines, the report said the “worst-performing parties” included the Lakas, LDP, NUP and UNA. Each had only one to four members with websites, and none used HTTPS. “Best-performing parties” were Akbayan and PDP-Laban. Each had only two members with websites.

The absence of security features on politicians’ websites reflects on the lack of seriousness of politicians to communicate with the public. They do not seem to care about voters securely connecting via their websites.

That’s the technology part. Now, let’s go to the message these politicians want to disseminate to voters. But there’s a different set of measurements for that.


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