OSG verifying 'accuracy and veracity' of reported data breach
This undated file photo shows Solicitor General Jose Calida.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

OSG verifying 'accuracy and veracity' of reported data breach

(Philstar.com) - May 3, 2021 - 7:05pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Solicitor General on Monday said it took note of the reported data breach of 345,000 of its files, but added that it will conduct proper verification on the accuracy and veracity of the allegation.

London-based security firm TurgenSec in an April 30 statement said it learned of a “publicly accessible data store” from the OSG in March. The company, which runs a website tracking data breaches, said they emailed the office and the Philippine government twice in March and by April 28, the breach was closed.

Addressing the reports, the government’s legal office said that while it “notes the responsible disclosure procedure of TurgenSec, the OSG must still be wary of unverified reports sent to its office and shall respond appropriately only after a proper verification has been undertaken as to the accuracy and veracity of these alleged data breaches.”

It added that they have taken necessary steps to protect the “confidential and sensitive information contained in its submissions before the courts of justice.”

TurgenSec said in its statement that the nature of documents part of the data breach “is of particular concern as it may have the potential to disrupt [or] undermine ongoing judicial proceedings.”

A report from Rest of World, an international nonprofit journalism organization, noted that the documents exposed were said to have contained sensitive keywords such as "Private," "Confidential," "Password" and "Witness” and covered topics on intelligence, terrorism, drugs, execution, the opposition, the military, on COVID-19, and even on President Rodrigo Duterte.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday confirmed that the OSG is looking into the report and assured that his department will be ready to assist if necessary.

Guevarra noted that the OSG, representing the government and the DOJ, handles thousands of cases in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

“The DOJ therefore has substantial interest in finding out the case of this alleged data breach and any prejudice to the interest of the government that such breach, if true, may have unduly caused,” the DOJ chief told reporters Monday.

“I will appreciate it very much if the OSG will inform the DOJ of its findings, considering the bi number of DOJ cases being handled by the OSG,” he added.

The OSG, for its part, said that perpetrators of crimes against data privacy committed against the State shall be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Christian Deiparine

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