Monday, July 15, 2024

‘Tech editor’ in hot water as NBI set to file case for hackings

Arturo Samaniego Jr., who used to hold the title as technology editor of the Manila Bulletin but is now the paper’s “senior technology officer”, is set to be charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for orchestrating a series of hackings against government and privately-owned websites.

The NBI made the disclosure on Friday, June 21, after it arrested in an entrapment procedure at the Manila Hotel three suspected hackers, one of whom – a data technology officer of the Manila Bulletin — directly implicated Samaniego for ordering him to hack various websites so he (Samaniego) can have “content” for his column.

The young suspect, which was reportedly employed by the newspaper when he was just 16 years old, cited the 1Sambayan app, which he said he illegally infiltrated. Samaniego subsequently wrote about the hacking in his column.

The NBI said that while Samaniego was not collared during the entrapment operations, he will be charged through direct filing with violations of the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Data Privacy Act.

The agency said Samaniego and the other arrested suspects are “members of two big hacking groups, namely: Philippine Lulzec and Globalsec”.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in a statement, commended the NBI for apprehending the suspected cybercriminals.

“We will assist our colleagues from the NBI as their technical consultants and help them build their case against these suspected individuals,” the ICT body said.

“[The] DICT is part of the National Cybersecurity Interagency Committee (NCIAC) and its working groups that share intelligence and technical information regarding these cases and assist our law enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify, locate, and apprehend suspected cybercriminals,” it added.

Interestingly, the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), an attached agency of the DICT, has not yet commented on the issue. This is despite the fact that Samaniego is a “co-founder” of Scam Watch, an entity affiliated with the CICC.  

Samaniego, who has denied the allegations against him in TV interviews, is the same author of the fake article on Comelec hacking, which was published by the Manila Bulletin as a banner story in the weeks leading to the 2022 national elections.

After getting confirmation from various government agencies such as the NBI, CICC, and the DICT that its database was not breached, the Comelec had vowed to haul Samaniego to court for the damage he has done to the country’s electoral system.

However, the poll body has not filed the case as of this time, leading some observers to believe that this emboldened Samaniego to commit his latest shenanigan since he was not punished the last time around.

Samaniego was also embroiled in a similar hacking incident in 2006 when he was charged by online news outfit INQ7.net for illegally accessing its IT system. The case, however, was settled out of court after Samaniego issued a public apology.  

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