Arrested data security officer admits to hacking 93 websites

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
Arrested data security officer admits to hacking 93 websites
The arrested hacker known as ‘Kangkong’ has issued a public apology, especially to the military community, for compromising dozens of government and private company websites.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A data security officer of Manila Bulletin has admitted to hacking approximately 93 websites, including government and private company websites, as well as servers based abroad.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, the hacker with the alias “Kangkong” revealed that he left a specific picture on the compromised websites as proof of his involvement.

In his extrajudicial confession, he identified Bulletin’s senior technology officer Art Samaniego as the person who ordered the hacking of several high-profile websites, including the peacekeeping operations center website of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the mail server of the National Security Council and the Join the PH Army website.

Kangkong said he regrets for implicating Samaniego to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“I owe a lot to him, for what he did for me in the Bulletin, but I’m sorry, Sir Art, that this happened,” he said in Filipino.

He explained that if there is a website that he hacked, he would send it to Samaniego, and depending on how big the government agency is, he would look into it and decide if he would write an article about it.

“When we met, I was looking for work, he said maybe I could work in the Bulletin,” Kangkong said.

Samaniego has denied allegations that he ordered the hacking of government and bank websites to boost his social media reach.

He said he did not need to compromise the AFP’s website for content.

Kangkong also issued a public apology to President Marcos, the general public and especially to the military community for his actions.

Kangkong acknowledged the significant impact of his actions, including the exposure of sensitive data of soldiers to foreign entities.

“That’s when I realized that we have many enemies and we should not be going against each other,” he said.

Kangkong highlighted the inadequate cybersecurity measures in place for government and private companies’ websites, stating that this was a key factor in his ability to hack them.

“Cybersecurity is not really a priority in the Philippines. They should invest in security. We know that hiring people is expensive, the tools needed are expensive. But they should invest somehow because if they don’t invest and they are breached, they would have to spend more,” he said.

Kangkong and two others were arrested by the NBI Cybercrime Division on June 19 after reports of multiple unauthorized access attempts and breaches on websites.

The NBI revealed that one of the suspects’ phone contained scripts and databases obtained from local government units, various government websites and Facebook users’ credentials.


Meanwhile, the NBI yesterday confirmed that its Cybercrime Division has issued a subpoena against Samaniego.

NBI Public Information Office chief Nick Suarez told The STAR that agents of the NBI-Cybercrime Division issued the subpoena past noon yesterday.

“This is part of the process for (Samaniego) to explain his side to the authorities,” Suarez said.

The subpoena was issued to Samaniego in the newspaper company’s head office in Intramuros, Manila.

Samaniego has been suspended from work pending an investigation by the news organization, according to reports.

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