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Better Cybersecurity Measures to Manage Online Crime in the Philippines

In the Philippines, the pandemic has brought out the worst in some opportunists, and it appears that phishing attacks and ransomware are the preferred cyber weapons. For years, the Philippines has attempted to enforce legislation against engineered phishing scams. But with so many Filipinos online at all times during the pandemic, the National Bureau of Investigation’s Cybercrime Division recorded a 200% increase since the lockdowns began last March.

Recently, ransomware attack has been on the rise which has opened opportunities for hackers to prey on distracted people and organisations in many countries, particularly the Philippines. A statement released by the Filipino cybersecurity professionals stated that the country needs to train new cybersecurity experts and upskill current practitioners as threats escalate and expertise remains “disproportionately inadequate”.

The Filipino cybersecurity commitment is to advocate for the highest level of cybersecurity in the Philippines. It is suggested that the best way to accomplish this is to make cybersecurity more accessible and to train and hone professionals’ skills to the point where they are globally competitive. A study showed that Philippine firms spend millions to recover from ransomware attacks according to the cybersecurity professional.

In recent years, ransomware has been one of the most prominent types of cyberattacks. This year it has been observed that large organisations have fallen victim to hackers demanding millions of dollars to either unlock databases or stop them from publicly releasing the information.

A joint statement issued by the Philippines business firm says the impact of cybercrime in the country is expected to grow further. Globally, it is expected to reach $6 trillion in 2021 and up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 if businesses and governments do not take proactive measures on this issue soon.

About 42% of the firms surveyed in the Philippines reported that they were hit by ransomware in 2020, which is an increase from 30% in 2019. Of these, 76% suffered data encryption, which means the hackers locked their databases until their demands were fulfilled. The number is said to be higher than the global average of 54%.

A UK-based cybersecurity firm found that Philippine organisations have spent an average of $820,000 (approximately P40 million) to recover from these attacks – costs that cover the ransom paid, and the costs incurred by the downtime. The cost is lower than the global average of $1.85 million. The global average is $170,404, with $3.2 million being the highest recorded in the survey.

Cybercrime is a major concern for companies of all sizes, from brand new start-ups to established international corporations. With so many high-profile breaches over the last decade, the threat is as obvious as it is ever-present. Moreover, the COVID-19 has aided in increasing reliance on digital channels, but it has also attracted bad actors as online scams have increased.

All of the potential problems were present at the beginning of the pandemic. Employees in work-from-home arrangements did not have access to the same data-protection protective measures as those in a traditional workplace. Many individuals who lost their jobs were likely forced to turn to cybercrime. These have led to a global threat called a “cyber pandemic,” an organised cybersecurity attack on organisations that takes advantage of people’s vulnerabilities during the pandemic.

Experts urge the Philippines to review its cybersecurity programs given the increasing frequency of ransomware attacks and similar crimes being committed online. Ransomware attacks around the world rose 625 to 304 million incidents in 2020, the highest level in four years, according to a provider of market and consumer data.

The rapidly increasing global increase in cyberattacks comes at a high cost for businesses seeking to better protect their computer networks from intrusions. Cyberattacks not only are increasing in frequency, but they are costing victims larger financial losses.

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