Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC Facebook hack investigated

NEC Facebook hack investigated

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea speaks to the press after an event in May in Phnom Penh.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea speaks to the press after an event in May in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

NEC Facebook hack investigated

The Interior Ministry is investigating how hackers got into the Facebook page of the National Election Committee (NEC) spokesman and controlled it for weeks, preventing the public dissemination of election-related information.

According a letter signed by NEC President Sik Bunhok and NEC spokesman Hang Puthea, a hacker gained control of the “NEC Spokesperson” Facebook page and Puthea’s personal Facebook profile on September 15.

Their letter does not describe the nature of the hack, but said that it “made it so that the public and general media could not receive information from the NEC on the election process, and disrupted the NEC spokesperson’s job”. With the ministry’s help, the accounts were recovered on October 4, according to the letter.

NEC Deputy Secretary-General Som Sorida and NEC communications department head Khorn Keo Mono both said that they were aware of the incident and referred questions to Puthea, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Chea Pov, director of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Technological Crime Department, confirmed his department was investigating the hack but declined to provide details.

“We already found some clues” about who the hacker is, Pov said.

A screenshot of the hacked National Election Commission's Facebook page.
A screenshot of the hacked National Election Commission's Facebook page. Photo supplied

The “NEC Spokesperson” Facebook page has nearly 79,000 followers – about 23,000 more than the actual NEC Facebook page.

Comfrel database and research officer Korn Savang said the NEC created confusion by not informing the public about the hack, particularly because it overlapped with an ongoing voter registration drive, which began on September 10. The registration drive has so far seen lacklustre enrolment.

Savang said Comfrel recently cited a report posted on the “NEC Spokesperson” page about how 110,000 people had registered to vote in a single day in a roundtable presentation, only to find out later from the NEC that the data was posted by the hacker.

In reality, only 10,000 people had registered to vote that day, Savang said.

“This hacking, it is not a minor issue, but a big issue,” Savang said. “I think NEC has to strengthen their security to protect their data now that they’ve had this experience.”

Phnom Penh-based cybersecurity consultant Niklas Femerstrand said weak passwords and linking phone numbers to accounts are the most common ways for someone to hack into a Facebook account.

He said this hack appeared to be the issue of one person having a compromised account.

“The individual doesn’t represent the security of the organization,” Femerstrand said in a message.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42