The National Cybersecurity Plan to fight a common global threat | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

The DICT’s investigations saw instances described as clear acts of espionage, attributed to the APT Group 18 that uses the Gh0st RAT malware

In today’s digitally connected world, where a mere keystroke can unleash a torrent of consequences, cybersecurity isn’t just a big buzzword; it’s a risk that all internet users must take seriously.

And nowhere is this more critical than in the growing digital economy of the Philippines, where the escalating incidence of cyberattacks continue to victimize individuals, business enterprises, and government institutions became the impetus for a robust National Cybersecurity Plan recently approved by the President.

The plan is a comprehensive, long-term strategy covering 2024-2028 led by the Department of Information and Communications Technology in close consultation with the technology industry designed to tackle cybersecurity challenges head-on.

The best cybersecurity practices and effective strategies of other countries served as valuable inputs for building and sustaining a systemic cyber defense posture.

Now, what’s in this plan?

First off, there’s a heavy emphasis on updating government policies that are incompatible, and are actually a hindrance to developing a digitally transformed society.

Procurement policies need to be responsive to the dynamic nature of cybersecurity services so that our government agencies can adequately avail themselves of the most appropriate security solutions.

There will be a nationwide mapping of cyber assets and infrastructure that will need to be secured. Think of it as fortifying the castle walls and knowing exactly where the treasures are hidden.

So, what are the country’s cyber assets and infrastructure that need protection?

First off, we’ve got government systems.

These are all the databases and networks that government agencies use, which are packed with sensitive information and therefore a big target for cyber-attacks.

Then there’s what we call critical infrastructure.

These are the systems that are critical for our society and the economy to function.

Think power grids, water treatment and distribution facilities, transportation systems, and communication networks.

Next are financial systems like banks, other financial institutions, and healthcare systems which all rely heavily on digital systems. If these get disrupted, there will be serious consequences.

And let’s not forget about private sector enterprises, the prime drivers of our economy.

Companies of all sizes are at risk as all handle customer data that can be used for scams like e-commerce fraud, extortion, business email compromise, identity theft, investment scams, romance scams, among others.

But it’s not all about the digital infrastructure; there’s also the urgency to train and upskill cybersecurity personnel and develop extensive public awareness – an essential pillar of digital transformation that will instill a safety conscious or what experts call a “no trust” attitude in cyberspace behavior.

The weakest and most vulnerable target of hackers are the devices of the individual user. Hence, every personal devices like computers and smartphones must be protected.

Quite alarming is the intensification of cyberattacks reflected in the 2023 report of Globe Telecom which counted blocking more than 1.1 billion scam and spam messages, a 500 percent increase compared to its 2022 data.

In January, alleged Chinese hackers attempted to infiltrate several Philippine government websites, including the DICT, OWWA, a DepEd regional office, PCG, and even President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s personal website.

The DICT traced the attack on OWWA’s website to an undisclosed location in China.

The DICT and Deep Web Konek reported that this threat stole over 750 GB of sensitive data.

On Feb. 6, the Philippine National Police reported 64,077 cybercrime cases before the House Committees on ICT and Public Information.

The DICT’s investigations saw instances described as clear acts of espionage, attributed to the APT Group 18 that uses the Gh0st RAT malware.

Undersecretary Dy stated the investigation indicates potential links to Chinese networks, but there is insufficient evidence to directly tie these hacking attempts to the Chinese government.

In response, the DICT is collaborating with other cyber entities like Google, Mandiant, Trend Micro Inc., and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center.

The full and prioritized execution of the National Cybersecurity Plan will hopefully raise a robust cybersecurity shield against the relentless attacks by malign actors serving a fusion of criminal and political agendas.

However, recent cyberattacks, allegedly originating from Chinese networks, underscore the ongoing challenges in cyberspace and its geopolitical dimension.

The government must continue to forge international cooperation and collaboration to mitigate what has become a common global threat of this digitally connected world.

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