Ombudsman reveals hacking of case records, plans fortifying IT system

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Hackers have breached the computer network of the Office of the Ombudsman, allowing parties to some cases to learn about the decisions before they are released.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires told lawmakers Monday that the hacking issue was so serious that he advised lawyers in the office against using the local internet connection.

Martires said employees from the Ombudsman’s management information system division have been placed on preventive suspension due to the hack.

“Itong taon po na ito, nadiskubre namin na na-hack ‘yung aming system. ‘Yung mga may kaso pala sa amin, kaya pala alam nila kung nasaan na ang kanilang mga kaso kasi tatlong tao ang nakatingin sa aming firewall. Hindi ho biro ang alam po ng respondent na ginagawa pa lang ‘yung decision may nakakakita na,” he said.

[Translation: Earlier this year, we found out that our system was hacked. They knew the status of their cases because three people had access to our firewall. It’s a serious matter because while we’re still working on the decision, the respondent can already see it.]

Martires said he is in talks with Estonia to acquire security software that would protect the Ombudsman against future cyberattacks.

His office, meanwhile, plans to buy new computer hardware.

“I am trying to save more because of our plan to buy more hardware para sa aming [for our] IT, and which the software will be provided by a foreign country,” Martires said.