Lawmakers not spared by hackers

September 4, 2010 10:49 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Sept. 3 — Lawmakers on Friday warned of the proliferation of hacked electronic mail accounts, sending mass e-mails claiming that they lost their money elsewhere and would want some financial help from the recipients.

This as hackers broke into the e-mail account of House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III and sent a "help" message to all the persons in his contact list.

Tanada’s fellow legislators and reporters covering the House of Representatives have received the message:

"I am in a hurry writing this mail to you, I had traveled to Wales, UK for an urgent situation and unfortunately for me all my money was stolen at the hotel where I lodged. I am so confused right now, I don't know what to do or where to go. I didn't bring my phones here and the hotel telephone lines were disconnected during the robbery incident. So I have access to only emails. Please can you send me £ 1260 as early as possible so I can return home. As soon as I get home I would refund it immediately. Please I need you to get back to me so I can let you know how to send the money to me."

"I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks a lot for your willingness to help… Western Union or MoneyGram happens to be a quicker means of sending the cash, and please bear in mind that I'll facilitate your reimbursement as soon as I get home. All you have to do is locate a Western Union or MoneyGram outlet or you can transfer online by using your credit card to log on to and get the money transferred in my name (as shown on my ID)," it added.

Tanada said he was aware that e-mail accounts were being hacked but he did not expect that he would become a victim of it.

"The spam message that was sent to my email contacts was a 'pro-forma' message. Obviously, it is a scam. I received the same message before but from a different person. Obviously, the hacker is a foreign national," he said.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara expressed concern over the incident that even some government websites were also hacked shortly after the bungled Quirino Grandstand bus hostage rescue incident.

He stressed the necessity to craft a stronger anti-cybercrime measure.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles also expressed deep concern with the fact that even the e-mail accounts of government officials are no longer safe from hackers.

The incident which could be just one of the many e-mail hacking schemes involving prominent political and business personalities should now prompt Congress to craft a stronger and more defined anti-cybercrime measure, he said.

"This is a serious problem because apart from the fact certain highly confidential information are potentially exposed to hackers, our effort to modernize government transactions through e-governance and promote businesses through an array of electronic business solutions might be compromised. I think that Congress should really look into this and possibly craft a law that would strengthen our anti-cybercrime laws," he added.

Meanwhile, Angara said he has filed House Bill no. 511, or the "Cyber-Crime prevention Act of 2010," which seeks to define cyber-crime offenses and impose stiffer penalties against cyber-crimes.

A similar bill was filed during the 14th Congress but Angara said the measure only hurdled third reading approval at the House of Representatives.

HB 511 seeks to organize a more organized and more capable anti-cyber crime unit, which will be called the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) that will be the lead agency to fight all cybercrime offenses and at the same time formulate and implement a national cyber security plan. (PNA)



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