The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has just released the mugshot of Paul Biteng, the suspected hacker of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website. He was arrested inside his home in Sampaloc, Manila by the NBI this Wednesday, April 20, on the basis of a search warrant. Biteng reportedly admitted the crime.
The hacking of the Comelec website was claimed by Anonymous Philippines, in which Biteng is believed to be a member. The Comelec and NBI presented him in front of the media this Thursday, but his face was covered. NBI Cybercrime Division Chief Ronald Aguto Jr. said that it took them three weeks before they were able to catch him.
Biteng, 23, is a fresh graduate of Perpetual Help College in Manila, finishing Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista described him as ‘cooperative’ and ‘has really no intention to harm.’ The suspected hacker told him that he only wanted to make sure that Comelec will secure the coming election.
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On the other hand, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that the hackers launched a website where the alleged stolen Comelec data was reposted. But because it requires a user to submit his personal data before he can access the site, Jimenez strongly suggested that no one should visit the said website to avoid identity theft.
But while Paul Biteng might have violated the anti-cybercrime law for his alleged participation in hacking the Comelec website, and many Filipino voters now hate him, both Microsoft and Facebook are doing the exact opposite. In fact, the two tech giants are thanking him for being one of their dependable security researchers in 2014.
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“On behalf of over a billion users, we would like to thank the following people for making a responsible disclosure to us” A message on Facebook.com reads on their ‘white hat’ page, where Paul Biteng is among them. A white hat hacker is a computer security expert who breaks into protected systems to test its vulnerability and help improve it.
“The Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) is pleased to recognize the security researchers who have helped make Microsoft online services safer by finding and reporting security vulnerabilities.” A statement reads at Microsoft’s Security Researcher Acknowledgments page, where the name of Paul Biteng is also listed in 2014.