By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. has ordered the implementation of measures to boost the cybersecurity of the police force’s offices amid the spate of hacking of government websites.

In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Wednesday, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) has been tapped to oversee the implementation of these measures, which were discussed during a recent command conference attended by police officials.

She added that an investigation is underway after reports that the data system of the PNP Forensic Group has been compromised following an alleged hacking incident.

“Our ACG, in coordination with the ITMS (Information Technology Management Service), is looking into whether the integrity of the Forensic Group’s data system, particularly the DNA data system, has been compromised,” she said.

Fajardo, however, assured that the databases of the PNP’s Forensic Group, such as DNA, Combined DNA Index System, Integrated Ballistics Identification System, and Automated Fingerprint Identification System, are all intact.

She also said the online portal of the PNP Recruitment and Selection Service (PRSS) was not affected by a previously reported data breach.

Fajardo said the ITMS personnel are going around PNP offices to conduct vulnerability tests.

“The vulnerability test would determine whether our systems, particularly those connected with the Internet are vulnerable to attacks kaya pinapalakas din natin hindi lamang yung hardware pati na rin yung ating mga software (The vulnerability test would determine whether our systems, particularly those connected with the Internet, are vulnerable to attacks, so we are strengthening not only the hardware but also our software),” she said.

She added that the ACG is willing to provide technical assistance to help other government agencies in investigating hacking and data system breach incidents.

The series of hacking incidents began with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., which was hit by a ransomware attack.

The hackers gained access to the state insurer’s online systems and demanded USD300,000 in exchange for not leaking the personal data they had acquired.

The Philippine Statistics Authority has also announced that its Community-Based Monitoring System, which contained personal and sensitive personal information, was accessed by hackers.

On Oct. 15, the House of Representatives website was also compromised.

Another reshuffle

Meanwhile, two ranking police officials have been included in the latest reorganization of the PNP.

Based on PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr.’s order dated Oct. 18, Southern Police District (SPD) Director Brig. Gen. Roderick Mariano was reassigned to the Office of the Chief PNP while Brig. Gen. Mark Pespes from Directorate of Intelligence (DI) as the new acting director of the Southern Police District (SPD).

The SPD covers the cities of Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Taguig, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa and the municipality of Pateros.

Pespes was among those who responded to the botched escape of Abu Sayyaf leader Idang Susukan and Daulah Islamiyah members Arnel Cabintoy and Feliciano Sulayao Jr. from the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame on Oct. 9, 2022. (PNA)