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Building Cybersecurity Capability in the Philippines

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will launch short-term courses and long-term cybersecurity programmes to assist in developing the country’s cybersecurity workforce.

Local BPM firms, financial institutions, banks and the rest of the business sector are looking to hire more cybersecurity experts. As a result, currently, there is an increased demand for cybersecurity experts worldwide, with an estimated two to three million job openings worldwide.

Currently, the Philippines has only about 200 certified cybersecurity experts or those with Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications. Moreover, only about 30% of these accredited experts are working in the country, while the rest are working abroad.

“We will be launching some programmes [on cybersecurity] in 2023. What is happening is that we have many talented technical people who do not qualify for jobs because they lack the necessary credentials,” Uy explained.

DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy stated that these programmes would include short courses that would allow for the rapid deployment of cybersecurity professionals and long-term programmes developed in collaboration with educational institutions and government education agencies. In response, the DICT is collaborating with several large technology companies to assist Filipinos in obtaining training courses.

“Some are three- or six-month certifications; we will invite these technical people to enrol, either subsidised or free. And then we give them a scholarship so they can take the certification,” he stated.

To meet the long-term demand for cybersecurity experts, the DICT is forming alliances with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and state universities and colleges to establish more courses in the field.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released its “National Cybersecurity Talent Workforce Assessment of the Philippines” early in December. The study, commissioned by USAID’s Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) Activity and conducted by U.S based technology company, proposed several solutions to the workforce gap.

The final “National Cybersecurity Talent Workforce Assessment Report of the Philippines” report was completed in October and presented formally in December. The report explores the challenges, lacunae and position of cybersecurity in the current. The report highlights the country’s current need for credentialed or certified and experienced cybersecurity workforce. It offers possible solutions to overcome the problems as well as highlights opportunities that could be tapped.

John Garrity, USAID’s Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) Activity Chief of Party acknowledges that there is a shortage of skills in the cybersecurity field that is being felt by both the private and public sectors. However, this presents an opportunity for local talent to be trained to build capacity. With the right training and guidance, the dearth of talent can be addressed domestically.

Apart from building local cybersecurity capacity, the Philippines is addressing the rise of electronic communication-aided criminal activities in the country; mobile phishing, spam text messages, online scams, bank fraud, and identity theft are just a few examples. The Philippine Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Act requires all end-users to register their SIM cards with their respective telecommunications networks before activation, with the goal of regulating SIM registration and use.

Furthermore, the Philippine House of Representatives has approved the final reading of the proposed Internet Transactions Act to improve internet transaction security. All business-to-business and business-to-consumer commercial transactions over the internet will be regulated by law enforcement. The bill will have an impact on online retail, online travel, digital media providers, ride-hailing services, and digital financial services.

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