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Developing a Roadmap for Cyber Defence in the Philippines

Cybercrime is one of the region’s fastest-growing nonviolent crimes. To address such issues, a great deal of technical expertise and cooperation, both domestic and international, is required. This crime affects different countries to varying degrees, depending on the extent of each country’s legislative enactment.

As the technical and electronic landscapes change in the Philippines, there is a need to enact new laws or amend existing ones to fully address cyber threats. With cybercrime being one of the most immediate threats to businesses today, one of the effective yet little-known methods for countering their attacks is the use of white hat or ethical hackers.

A group of ethical hackers in the Philippines where leaders in the field and knowledge partners from the private sector, sat down and discussed various issues concerning cybersecurity in the Philippines as seen through the eyes of white hat hackers. During the discussion, Philippine cyber security experts mentioned that the pandemic’s changes in the working environment have kept cybersecurity experts, IT professionals, and white hat hackers at the forefront of countering digital threats to avoid business disruptions.

The Convenor of Digital Pilipinas noted that as the Philippines emerges as an emerging player in FinTech in the ASEAN region, “the need to build the country’s cyber posture is becoming more important,” and that cybersecurity experts, in collaboration with the government and private sector, will play an increasingly important role in bringing the Philippines to its rightful place as a digital leader. As a result, Digital Pilipinas is empowering platforms to address such emerging trends and challenges.

OpenGov Asia in an article reported that the Philippines’s senator has introduced new legislation to combat new cybercrimes such as skimming and phishing, which have reached an all-time high since most transactions have shifted online during the pandemic. The “Bank Account, E-wallet, and Other Financial Accounts Regulation Act,” also known as Senate Bill No. 2380, aims to promote and maintain a stable and efficient financial system while also recognising the need to protect the public from cybercriminals and syndicates that target bank accounts and e-wallets.

The measure aims to ensure that the hard-earned money of the public is kept safe and that public trust and confidence in the nation’s financial system are maintained as it continues to innovate and traverse through cyberspace, said the senator.

If the bill is passed, agencies such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Department of Justice, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police will develop an “Anti-Scam/Financial Fraud Roadmap” to educate and inform consumers about financial scams and how to avoid them, as well as to expedite the regulation and prosecution of financial cybercrime cases.

In addition, rapid changes in information and communications technology (ICT) have significantly altered our way of life. Critical functions of industries and industrial control systems are becoming increasingly reliant on these technologies. With the comprehensive National Cybersecurity Strategy Framework, the newly created Department of Information and Communications Technology, through its attached agency, the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Centre (CICC), adapt to the new paradigm.

The Framework’s development must be capable of institutionalising the adoption and implementation of Information Security Governance and Risk Management approaches. These globally recognised standards will provide the government with a systematic and methodical practice for protecting our mission-critical and non-critical information infrastructure. The government will strengthen its capability and capacity for rapid response and recovery by establishing the National Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT).

In terms of cybersecurity, the DICT is tasked with ensuring the rights of individuals to privacy and confidentiality of their personal information; ensuring the security of critical ICT infrastructures which include information assets of the government, individuals, and businesses; and providing oversight over agencies governing and regulating the ICT sector and ensuring consumer protection and welfare, data privacy and security, and fostering competition and the growth of the ICT sector.

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