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The Philippines, U.S. Collaborate on Cybersecurity and Defence

Image credit: Philippine Department of National Defense
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The Philippines and the United States are exploring opportunities to strengthen collaboration in the realms of cybersecurity and defence. The Department of National Defense (DND), under the leadership of Christine June P. Cariño from the Office for Cybersecurity and Information Management recently hosted a delegation from the United States. The delegation included representatives from the US National Security Council (NSC), Joint US Military Assistance Group-Philippines (JUSMAG-P), and the US Embassy in Manila.

Image credit: Philippine Department of National Defense

During the meeting, both parties agreed on the importance of protecting systems from espionage threats facilitated by technology and discussed the increasing frequency and severity of ransomware attacks. They placed particular emphasis on the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures in response to the ongoing 5G technology evolution.

Recognising the dynamic landscape of cyber technologies, the DND highlighted the growing number of cyberattacks and intrusions originating from foreign entities. In the DND’s vigilant monitoring of these incidents to avert potential security breaches, it became evident that these attacks are not random but rather well-coordinated. Notably, they target not only the defence sector but also vital institutions such as healthcare.

Meanwhile, the US delegation shared insights on the role played by private sectors in the country within the domain of cyber defence, particularly in safeguarding critical infrastructures. They also expressed concerns about potential attacks on civilian infrastructures by adversaries.

The US reiterated its commitment to fostering close collaboration with the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on cybersecurity issues. Furthermore, they offered capacity-building opportunities for the Philippine side to consider.

The two countries also discussed artificial intelligence (AI) and the Philippine side expressed interest in post-quantum technologies and the development of established AI systems. Acknowledging both the potential advantages and challenges linked with AI, the Philippine side emphasised its requirement for support from technology providers to bolster cybersecurity and defence capabilities.

The Department shared its plan to incorporate AI into the National Defense Strategy to strengthen the country’s stance on the matter. The DND reaffirmed its dedication to integrating digital and cyber technologies as part of efforts to achieve a Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP).

The meeting concluded with both parties reiterating the importance of the Philippines-US alliance and expressing their shared commitment to sustaining and fortifying this crucial partnership.

Cybersecurity is becoming a vital foundation that the Philippines wants to prioritise in the current digital environment. Investments are drawn to secure digital networks, providing a reliable operating environment for businesses and national agencies.

As part of this effort, the government has prioritised fostering global partnerships. International cooperation is a key element in the Philippines’ recently-released draft National Cybersecurity Plan 2023-2028. The plan addresses cybersecurity challenges by providing stakeholders with vital insights, enabling them to bolster the resilience of Critical Information Infrastructures (CIIs). Furthermore, it acts as a gateway for accessing government support in the event of cybersecurity incidents.

In September, officials from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas agreed to enhance collaboration in cybersecurity and e-governance. As OpenGov Asia reported, during the meeting, DICT said it would prepare a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on digital cooperation to facilitate future agreements between the two nations.

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