‘In­se­cure’site­sof politi­cians

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORY! - NINI B. CABAERO

MORE than half of the web­sites of Filipino politi­cians have no se­cu­rity fea­tures, mak­ing it risky for peo­ple who leave per­sonal de­tails and hard to know if these sites are au­then­tic.

A study re­leased last March 7 by Com­par­itech, a United King­dom-based com­pany that con­ducts tech­nol­ogy re­search, said 68.18 per­cent of the web­sites of Filipino politi­cians are “in­se­cure” as these are with­out valid SSL (se­cure sock­ets layer) cer­tifi­cates, mean­ing vis­i­tors’con­nec­tions to those sites are not pri­vate nor se­cure.

This be­comes prob­lem­atic when users are asked to in­put per­sonal de­tails such as name and email ad­dress on the web­site, the re­port found at https:/ / www.com­par­itech.com said. Even if the web­site does not have forms to be filled, the ab­sence of an SSL cer­tifi­cate and an HTTPS (hyper­text trans­fer pro­to­col se­cure) im­ple­men­ta­tion to se­cure the trans­fer of in­for­ma­tion over a com­puter could com­pro­mise the in­tegrity of the data.

For the Filipino voter, an in­se­cure web­site of a politi­cian means not only se­cu­rity risks but also how can­di­dates for the midterm elec­tions this May do not give im­por­tance to the qual­ity of in­for­ma­tion they pro­vide. Hav­ing a web­site means hav­ing a venue to com­mu­ni­cate with the pub­lic, the vot­ers. Not hav­ing a se­cure or pro­fes­sional web­site means not giv­ing im­por­tance to this com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­form and, by ex­ten­sion, the mes­sage.

The Com­par­itech re­port said it as­sessed the per­sonal web­sites of more than 7,500 politi­cians in 37 coun­tries across the globe. Of those web­sites, 60.75 per­cent did not use valid SSL cer­tifi­cates. About half of the politi­cians’web­sites in­clude some sort of form in­put where users can reg­is­ter ac­counts, log in, sign up for news­let­ters or send a mes­sage. These forms of­ten re­quest the user to en­ter per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. None of these in­ter­ac­tions can be prop­erly pro­tected with­out HTTPS.

Even web­sites that don’t in­clude form in­put fields should ideally use HTTPS to en­crypt the con­tents of what users see on a par­tic­u­lar site, it added. The SSL cer­tifi­cate au­then­ti­cates web­sites, help­ing to en­sure vot­ers that they’re on the politi­cian’s gen­uine site and not a fraud­u­lent one.

The Com­par­itech re­port said ob­tain­ing an SSL cer­tifi­cate and im­ple­ment­ing HTTPS are not dif­fi­cult nor ex­pen­sive so politi­cians have lit­tle ex­cuse for not prop­erly se­cur­ing their si t es.

In the Philip­pines, the re­port said the “worst-per­form­ing par­ties” in­cluded the Lakas, LDP, NUP and UNA. Each had only one to four mem­bers with web­sites, and none used HTTPS. “Best-per­form­ing par­ties” were Ak­bayan and PDP-La­ban. Each had only two mem­bers with web­sites.

The ab­sence of se­cu­rity fea­tures on politi­cians’ web­sites re­flects on the lack of se­ri­ous­ness of politi­cians to com­mu­ni­cate with the pub­lic. They do not seem to care about vot­ers se­curely con­nect­ing via their web­sites.

That’s the tech­nol­ogy part. Now, let’s go to the mes­sage these politi­cians want to dis­sem­i­nate to vot­ers. But there’s a dif­fer­ent set of mea­sure­ments for that.

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