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All warfare is cyber

As technology evolves and expands, so does cyber security threats — ranging from spam and phishing, data breaches, online privacy violations, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, among many others, as well as cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure that can affect national security and economic activity. In fact, even warfare is now cyber. Conflicts between nations can now involve cyberattacks aimed at hurting critical infrastructure connected to basic services and economic sectors.

In the US, 93 percent of American consumers fear of other countries launching cyber warfare against the US, according to an April 2022 consumer survey released by internet security firm NordVPN.

Here in the Philippines, while there have been many instances of cyberattacks in the past — cybersecurity threats became more pronounced during the pandemic, when most of us were compelled to shift from physical activities to online, including business, purchasing and payments, and banking.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported receiving 42,000 complaints related to online transactions in 2020-2021, amounting to ₱540 million.

Moreover, in Kaspersky’s 2021 global ranking of countries most targeted by web threats, the Philippines ranked fourth.

With the sudden pivot to digitalization of almost every aspect of our life and our society, there is a stronger need to invest more on cybersecurity, not only in terms of ensuring a secured cyberspace but also in promoting digital literacy or cyber hygiene so that citizens are aware of cyber threats and are able to avert them.

Cybersecurity is one of the areas that Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy wants to improve on.

The DICT’s Cybersecurity Bureau—tasked to implement the National Cybersecurity Plan (NCSP) and extend immediate assistance to all stakeholders for the suppression of real-time commission of cybersecurity offenses—has been actively raising public awareness campaigns against the development and circulation of false websites, infographics, and social media posts, and also educated different stakeholders on the importance of personal data and how to protect it.

The department, through the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which handles cybersecurity matters, helps protect government agencies against cyber threats through incident response and handling and capacity building. It evaluates the security of government-operated systems through Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing; conducts regular cyber threat monitoring, and information sharing; and actively monitors cyber threats through the Security Operations Center (SOC). To protect critical infostructure and implement cyber security standards, the DICT conducts capacity-building activities for critical infostructures, facilitates the establishment of organizational CERTs, and conducts Cybersecurity Advocacy and Awareness Campaigns.

Moreover, we are also collaborating with fellow governments to strengthen cybersecurity and advance our digitalization efforts.

Our Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore involves the exchange of knowledge, technical expertise, and best practices in the field of cyber security; and cooperating to organize training courses and technical programs through the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE) to develop and enhance skills related to cybersecurity.

We are currently engaging with several other nations to further cooperation on our mutual goal of having a safer cyberspace for all.

In this day and age, the line between the online and physical world is almost non-existent. Cyberspace has become an integral part of our lives. We heavily rely on digital technologies. We can no longer resist this change, we just need to harness the benefits we can gain from it and be vigilant against the dangers that it poses not only on our personal lives, but even on our security and sovereignty as a nation.

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