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DICT doesn’t need secret funds — cyber expert


By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

THE DEPARTMENT of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) should focus on developing a national cybersecurity plan and seeking out international partners to boost the country’s capacity to deter cyber-attacks and data breaches instead of relying on confidential funds, a cybersecurity expert said.

“This is not only about legislation but this is about placing the right people that can implement and enforce cybersecurity policies in the country,”  Allan S. Cabanlong, regional director for Southeast Asia at Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, said in a Viber message.

“DICT doesn’t need confidential funds in cybersecurity since threat intelligence tools can be procured through the bidding process,” he pointed out.

Last month, DICT Secretary Ivan John E. Uy said it would ask Congress to restore its proposed P300 million in confidential funds in its proposed P9.73-billion budget next year.

The Philippines ranked 20th out of 161 countries with the most data breaches in the second quarter of this year, according to virtual private service provider Surfshark.

Global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky said in a report on April 17 that web attacks targeting entities in the Philippines rose to 492,567 in 2022 from 382,940 a year earlier.

Mr. Cabanlong said data breaches are caused by the poor enforcement of the DICT’s and the National Privacy Commission’s policies and other programs.

He added that unnecessary confidential funds could open the door to corruption.

“Strengthening international cooperation and implementing a multi-stakeholder approach are keys to improving cybersecurity in the country,” Mr. Cabanlong said.

The NPC in September told senators that the agency would need about P510 million to boost its capacity to probe data breaches in the country.

Senators are in the middle of investigating recent cyberattacks on government systems such as the House of Representatives website, data breaches and ransomware attacks in the Philippine Health Insurance system and the Department of Science and Technology.

Last month, Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano said the DICT should enforce a reward system that would pay anyone who could provide information about hackers.

There should also be stiffer penalties against hacking. “It will prevent major breaches in our cybersecurity and it’s worth it,” he said.

In September, Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said the Senate would hike the intelligence funds of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and National Security Agency (NSA), citing the need to protect the country from cyberattacks

Neil Banzuelo

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