Philippines’ Bureau of Investigation Raids Home of SMARTMATIC’s Employee Linked to Security Breach

Smartmatic Inc, the service provider for the 2022 automated elections in the Philippines, admitted last April 1 that a “data leak” occurred in its system but claimed it is not related to the upcoming election in May.

“Smartmatic informed us that they have met the appropriate disciplinary action against that employee of theirs,” Commission on Election chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan said.

“They emphasized to us that the data leak does not have anything to do with the elections in 2022. What was leaked data concerning their internal organization and activities,” he added.

According to GMA news, Senate President Sotto told the media that the employee from Smartmatic allowed a certain group “to copy the files containing sensitive information from his laptop.”

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GMA News reported:

Smartmatic assured the Comelec that the security of the ballots and configured SD cards are not compromised by the internal data leak, according to the poll body chief.

Pangarungan said the Comelec will wait first for the official report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the reported data breach before issuing its decision regarding the incident.

Smartmatic is aware that we studied all possible courses of action that the Comelec will take against them if ever. So, we have to wait for the NBI report because that would be the official basis of Comelec’s action.

The newly-appointed Comelec chief assured the public that could be confident with the results of the elections despite the security concerns over the 2022 national and local elections.

“I want to assure everyone, you read my lips, we will not allow anyone to destabilize the people’s confidence in our electoral system. That is our pledge,” Pangarungan said.

The Philippines NBI raided the house of Ricardo Argana, the Smartmatic employee involved in the alleged security breach in the Smartmatic system, on Tuesday.

According to the report, authorities recovered his smartphone and some SD cards hidden in the room’s ceiling during the raid.

authorities also found the Wi-Fi router that Argana used to “access to gadgets of other five IT suspects for six days.”

GMA News reported:

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided the home of the former Smartmatic employee implicated in the alleged security breach in its system

Armed with a search warrant, the NBI-Cybercrime Division (NBI-CCD) scoured the home of Ricardo Argana, who was not there at the time of raid.

Authorities found his smartphone and some SD cards hidden in the room’s ceiling during the search.

They also dismantled the Wi-Fi router that Argana used to have access to gadgets of other five IT suspects for six days.

NBI-CCD chief Victor Lorenzo said that Argana’s contract with Smartmatic was only for six months, but part of his job is to determine the possible glitches in the machines.

So, he was allowed to navigate the controlled environment of Smartmatic. ‘That’s all he has access to. His explanation is that he has people to talk to and he is allowed to have access to the controlled environment.

We want to know if he has an accomplice, or if he is acting alone or who are his accomplices if he had.

Smartmatic’s laptop has been returned, but Argana has already encrypted it so it won’t be subject for forensic examination, according to the NBI.

Authorities are now examining the cellphone, Wi-Fi router, and SD cards found at the suspect’s house.

A total of 720 counts of unlawful access were filed against Argana. He is, however, still at large.

We will assess what he has to say, if he will be qualified as a state witness. Let’s see what he has to say. If not, we will continuously file a case against him and the only thing we can guarantee to him is that sooner or later he will be caught.

Meanwhile, NBI Director Eric Distor said they are looking into the available digital evidence to verify the cost of the system breach.

It can be recalled that Smartmatic was also involved in an alleged voting fraud during the Philippine 2016 election. Data were found in SD cards of unused vote-counting machines.

ABS-CBN reported:

The Commission on Elections on Monday found data in some supposedly unused vote counting machines used in the last elections.

The poll body decrypted or unlocked another 26 SD cards, after an initial 127 cards were also found to contain data. The cards were from 1,356 backup counting machines.

At least 13 of the 26 SD cards decrypted as of noon were found to contain data. The ERSD, however, has not determined the exact contents of the SD cards or whether these could alter election results.

But lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesperson, said the mere presence of data in the SD cards strengthened their position that there was cheating in the May 9, 2016 elections.

Smartmatica UK based company, is a George Soros linked company that has provided voting technology in 16 states including battleground zones like Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

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