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Enhancing Critical Sector Cybersecurity in the Philippines

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has stressed the need to enhance cybersecurity measures across critical sectors. The government intends to foster partnerships and support seamless connections between public and private sectors, with a strong emphasis on strengthening the nation’s Critical Information Infrastructures (CIIs).

Image credit: Department of Information and Communications Technology

The DICT Cybersecurity Bureau (CSB) recently unveiled the draft National Cybersecurity Plan 2023-2028, which delves into the cybersecurity threats faced by the Philippines. The plan equips stakeholders with essential knowledge, enabling them to strengthen the resilience of CIIs, and serves as a gateway to access government support in the event of cybersecurity incidents. The plan serves as evidence of the nation’s dedication to staying at the forefront of the constantly evolving cybersecurity landscape, a DICT press statement wrote.

The plan was released at the 2023 Philippine Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (CIIP) Summit, hosted by DICT. It drew considerable interest, with 100 participants from various public and private sector agencies and organisations, including thought leaders, policymakers, and experts, attending the event. It was a catalyst for fostering a more secure digital landscape in the Philippines and strategically aligned with the DICT Cybersecurity Month 2023.

At the summit, participants conducted a comprehensive analysis of the existing threat landscape. It provided a platform to develop innovative approaches, harness state-of-the-art technologies, and shape robust policies. These initiatives were specifically designed to reduce the cyber threats that pose a danger to the 52 essential sectors crucial for the Philippines’ resilience.

Delegates from diverse areas presented their sector-specific cybersecurity roadmaps, offering insights into the challenges they faced and the progress they’ve achieved in enhancing cyber resilience. A representative from the National Water Resource Board presented updates, plans, and programmes for the Water Sector Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

The delegate from the Department of Health (DOH) discussed cybersecurity updates for the health sector, DOH initiatives, and the Cybersecurity Framework. From the Department of Energy, a representative shared insights on the Energy Resilience Policy, roadmaps, frameworks, and collaborative cybersecurity awareness activities with DICT.Top of Form

Participants heard updates from the Department of Finance (DOF), including information on the evolving threat landscape in the financial sector, the hierarchy of CERT, and DOF-CERT-PH strategic goals, policies, and programmes.

An official from the Office for Transportation Security discussed the agency’s mandate, and global and domestic security situations in transportation CIIs, and presented initiatives and plans for the future. Meanwhile, the national bank,  Bottom of FormBangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), spoke about the BSP’s approach to strengthening cyber resilience in the financial services industry.

The nation’s digital security is increasingly at risk due to the rising threat of cyberattacks. Recently, DICT verified that a cybersecurity incident affecting the House of Representatives (HOR) website took place on 15 October. HOR promptly took the website offline to prevent any additional unauthorised access and reported the incident to the DICT’s Philippine National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-PH).

CERT-PH has been investigating whether sensitive data was exfiltrated and the HOR IT Team received recommendations to implement preventive measures and enhance security to avert future website breaches.

The next stages of the investigation, such as determining the identity of the threat actor and case build-up, will be handled by the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Centre in collaboration with law enforcement agencies.


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