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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Build a cyber-attack ready ecosystem

There needs to be a deep commitment to work with these globally trusted cloud technology companies

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Did you know that cyber-attacks have a huge impact on the economy of the Philippines?

According to a study commissioned by leading American multi-national technology company, Microsoft, and conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the potential economic loss due to cyber-security incidents in the Philippines could reach an astounding US$3.5 billion.

To put that into perspective, it’s about one percent of the country’s total GDP, which was $404 billion in 2022, according to World Bank official data.

Translating that in Philippine pesos, that’s a P196 billion business for cyber criminals.

Cyber-attacks in the Philippines have been quite significant and have evolved over time.

For instance, ransomware attacks, which are not necessarily a new form of cyber-attack, have seen their strategies evolve and continue to seep through the cracks of outdated cybersecurity systems.

Malware has become a major concern.

According to a report by American technology firm Cisco, they affected 81 percent of small and medium businesses in the Philippines.

In 2022, Statista data reported about 15.37 thousand mobile malware attacks detected in the Philippines.

Phishing is also a common cyber-attack strategy in the Philippines.

Deceiving malicious messages are sent through email or messaging platforms to fool a victim to reveal sensitive personal information.

Over the years, this strategy has been so effective in gaining access to an entire corporate network.

In the news lately is the ransomware attack on Philhealth which is a type of malware that locks a victim’s data or device, threatening to keep it locked or worse, publish the sensitive data on the internet for hackers to feast on unless the victim pays a ransom to the attacker.

A recent Senate investigation pointed out the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police, and the COMELEC database were also breached by hackers.

The main Philippine government portal “gov.ph” was embarrassingly hacked in 2021.

Statista data (September 2023) showed that Ransomware was the most frequently detected cyberattack worldwide, accounting for around 68 percent of all detected cyberattacks.

Moreover, over 72 percent of businesses worldwide were affected by ransomware attacks.

According to a report by cybersecurity firm Sophos, 69 percent of organizations in the Philippines experienced a ransomware attack in 2021.

This figure is higher than the Philippines’ 42 percent percentage score in 2020 and higher than the global average.

In 2021, the average ransom payment made by Philippine organizations hit by ransomware was a whopping $1.6 million.

That’s double the country’s average of $820,000 in 2020!

What’s more, this figure is also double the global average of about $812,000 in 2021. It really underscores the significant financial impact of these cyber threats.

In a published statement by Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian C. Dy said from 2020 to 2022, about 3,000 “high level cyberattacks” were recorded in the Philippines.

Almost half of such attacks targeted systems and networks of government agencies and emergency response teams.

He further disclosed that they monitored approximately 54,000 cyber threats with five government agencies attacked since January 2023.

These figures highlight the significant financial and security impact of cyber threats on government and private organizations in the Philippines that must be immediately addressed.

So, are we ready to block these cybersecurity threats?

In terms of resources, it seems we are not.

DICT USec Dy admitted his concerns on the cybersecurity posture of the country and has appealed for more resources.

Though guidelines have been issued to government agencies to guard against the “Medusa” ransomware, it would be instructive for government to recruit the expertise of the top digital technology innovators already trusted by the world’s biggest and highly developed bureaucracies.

One of the dominant cloud technology providers globally, Microsoft, offers valuable advice for governments on leveraging cloud technology to improve cybersecurity.

They believe every nation should have a strategy to frame its investments and desired outcomes in cybersecurity.

They also emphasize the importance of increasing cybersecurity in critical sectors, which is vital to the future of national economies.

Globally, governments are moving beyond the question of whether to use cloud computing, focusing instead on how to do so more efficiently, effectively, and securely.

Microsoft as a technology partner of the US, our strongest ally and top trading partner, is investing to provide support in technical services to help federal, state, and local governments upgrade security protection and modernization assistance.

Microsoft is playing a key role in assisting US agencies to roll out modern applications and infrastructure built on the principles of “Zero Trust” architectures.

They’re also actively engaging with the open-source community and collaborating with widely used platforms to tackle variability across the entire ecosystem.

Additionally, they’ve launched a free repository of educational resources that governments can access to address critical cybersecurity gaps.

For the Philippines to become a thriving digital economy there needs to be a deep commitment to work with these globally trusted cloud technology companies, our local private sector telcos, and internet service providers to build a cyber-attack ready ecosystem that will have the nimbleness to move with the fast-moving risks of this digital world.

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