EDITORIAL - Hacking in a pandemic

EDITORIAL - Hacking in a pandemic

(The Philippine Star) - January 10, 2021 - 12:00am

The story drew jokes about someone wanting to address the spike in hunger incidence amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the more common reaction to the hacking of the credit card of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian was, “me, too.”

Gatchalian has asked the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the unauthorized use of his credit card to order food worth P1 million through the Food Panda app. He said he was presiding over a hearing at the Senate last Tuesday when he received a text alert from his credit card provider at around 2 p.m. about a request for a change in his phone number.

Because he was busy, he had no time to respond that he made no such request. The hacker apparently managed to change the phone number and thus received the one-time PIN to confirm the orders. Within just one hour, the hacker managed to order food in four batches, worth P300,851, P356,517, P323,247 and P96,265. Gatchalian has not ruled out an inside job in the hacking.

The country has passed several laws to regulate e-commerce and other online activities. The NBI has pointed out that the hacking incident is a violation of Republic Act 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998, RA 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, and RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Clearly, however, cyber criminals still find enough loopholes in the laws, and they are brazen enough to hack even the credit card of a senator. Catching the culprit will be a good indication of whether the existing laws are enough.

The incident should lead to a review of the e-commerce law for possible amendatory legislation. The pandemic-related quarantines have forced a shift to e-commerce, and there have been numerous complaints not only about the security of consumers’ personal information but also on the quality of the services and products. E-commerce marketing is also becoming overly intrusive and calls for tight regulation.

E-commerce is here to stay, and more people will be vulnerable to poor service, swindling and cyber crimes. With a senator as the latest victim, perhaps the necessary rules and laws will be quickly hammered out.

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