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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

House bans AI image apps too

The House of Representatives has warned its members and personnel to refrain from using artificial intelligence (AI) image generator applications due to possible security risks.

The chamber’s Secretary General Reginald Velasco issued the advisory after the House website was defaced by hackers last Oct. 15.

Velasco said the application poses privacy and security risks due to the possible creation of fake profiles, identity theft, and other malicious cyber activities.

“We encourage everyone to be very vigilant in acquiring applicationsor sharing information online,” Velasco added.

On Oct. 15, the House website had this message on its homepage:


It was accompanied by a caricature of a laughing man and the message “HAPPY APRIL FULLZ KAHIT OCTOBER PALANG! HACKED BY 3MUSKETEERZ 15-October-2023 || 11:31:24 AM.”

The National Bureau of Investigation also advised the public against using AI-powered photo generator apps, saying these could be used for identity theft and other scams.

“There have been reports of such cases already,” the NBI said.

The NBI said photos submitted to the app “can be used to craft fake profiles leading to incidents of identity theft, data breaching, sexual exploitation, phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, and other various malicious activities.”

“While it may appear to be harmless and amusing, this AI-driven technology has the potential to be maliciously exploited,” the NBI said.

Also on Tuesday, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa ordered the creation of a committee that would investigate the recent cyberattack on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) website in September. 

Last week, PhilHealth senior vice president and data privacy officer Nerissa Santiago said at least 13 million of their members have been affected by the Medusa ransomware cyberattack and about 600 to 800 employee data have been leaked.

Herbosa said that most of PhilHealth’s systems are already up even though “a lot of data” were compromised.

He added that the agency was instructed to create a crisis committee that would handle possible similar issues in the future.

Several members of PhilHealth’s executive committee are expected to be transferred or reassigned following the decision of the agency’s board of directors.

“I was the chair, but I was a non-voting chair. It was the members of the board that voted against members of the executive committee of Philhealth. The executive vice president, the vice president for finance, they were named actually,” Herbosa said.

“They were dismayed due to the recent Medusa hacking because of the antivirus software that wasn’t updated plus they cited many other instances in the past, the delayed publication for the dialysis, etc. so it was a unanimous board decision.”

However, the transfer or reassignment has yet to be implemented because PhilHealth’s president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. requested more time as he waits for comments from the Governance Commission for Government-owned or Controlled Corporations.

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