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Looking for a Unified Approach to Address Cybercrimes in the Philippines

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As the Philippine economy becomes more reliant on digital transactions, public-private sector partnerships are being forged to put deal with increasing cyberattacks. Knowing how valuable sharing of information is amid continued collaboration, the big tech companies in the Philippines are uniting against cybercrime.

A chief privacy officer of one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the country acknowledged that a united front and “possibly even joint investigation teams or task forces, especially in connection with current scams and other fraudulent activities” is needed to fight online attacks.

Moreover, the government too has been coordinating with the private sector toward this end. For one, timely warnings are fielded to tech companies in cases when cyber-attacks are imminent. The NPC (National Privacy Commission), in particular, sends us scams/spam messages for an investigation that we are able to block/deactivate accordingly, said a private telco executive.

Still, waiting for the government to warn the industry may not be enough. Thus, wanting to increase their chances against cybercrimes, the commercial entities have joined hands and strengthened their collaborations.

Recently, a leading telco has united with one of the country’s biggest banks. Specifically, they have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to share data with regard to digital banking fraud investigations. One of the bank’s executives described the deal as “an important step in our shared fight against online banking fraud.”

The executive was hopeful the recent agreement would lead to a stronger banking and financial system that would be able to bring to justice digital fraudsters. By doing so, she believes that doing so would be for the benefit of everybody as it brings needed protection for the customers.

The reality is cybercrimes are rising in the country. The end result is a lot more people fall victim to online fraud despite the abundance of information being put out there for public consumption. Philippine telcos and banks have chosen to educate their clients more and have increased their reminders and warnings against cybercrimes and their modus operandi. There is a great need to have a concerted effort to fight rising cybercrimes.

The telco executive was asked in what areas the public-private collaborations should be most effective. She answered that there is a need to educate consumers as well as to enhance regulatory requirements from both the private and public sectors to lessen cyber attacks. She cited that recent circulars from both the NPC and the country’s central bank are excellent examples of how to promote data-sharing between private institutions to minimise online fraud. They may not have the exact “location of victims” but they have the power to look into a possible pattern in possible scam messages.

Digital tools can be used to fight cybercrimes too. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be deployed to establish patterns. Cybercrimes in the Philippines have increased sporadically from year to year. In 2019, there were but 400,000 reported; that has grown to 1.2 million in 2020 and 2.8 million by 2021, a United Nations report detailed.


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