Cybersecurity is not just an IT matter | Inquirer Opinion

Cybersecurity is not just an IT matter

/ 04:10 AM June 05, 2024

The term “cybersecurity” conjures images of rows of sophisticated equipment, a sea of servers, and an army of hackers dressed in hoodies, out to create chaos in the computer systems of governments and enterprises. We have seen this at work in recent months, with various government agencies getting hacked and compromising the data of millions of Filipinos. Further, according to the 2022 Microsoft Digital Defense Report, there was a 74-percent surge in password attacks and a 300-percent rise in phishing attempts and ransomware. Microsoft’s recorded countermeasures purged over 531,000 phishing URLs and over 1,400 malicious accounts, underscoring the magnitude of the risk.

But as technology permeates people’s lives more pervasively every day, cybersecurity has also become an issue when users use their devices to stay connected to their social circles, perform banking errands, and shop for their needs and wants. A March 2024 Pulse Asia survey commissioned by the Stratbase ADR Institute revealed that some 86.75 million Filipinos are now using social media. Whether these users fall victim to scammers, fraudsters, and thieves depends on their awareness of the dangers that lurk online and the caution they adopt to protect themselves.

There have been a few initiatives by the government to address online threats. As early as 1992, the Consumer Act of the Philippines sought to identify consumers’ rights against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales acts or practices. In 2012, the Cybercrime Prevention Act, criminalizing and prosecuting fraud, identity theft, and cybersquatting was enacted.

The Philippine National Cybersecurity Plan, recently approved by President Marcos with the issuance of Executive Order No. 58, serves as a comprehensive framework for strengthening the country’s cyberdefenses and resilience through policy direction, operational guidelines, and capacity building to protect against online threats.


The administration’s emphasis on digitalization also means addressing rising cybercrimes. In December 2023, the Internet Transactions Act was signed. It is a measure that aims to protect both consumers and merchants against online scams and frauds.

In February this year, there was a proposal by Sen. Mark Villar for an Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act. The following month, during a speech before the Philippine National Police, Mr. Marcos reiterated his commitment to put in place efforts against cybercrime, from detection and response to case build-up and resolution.

Finally, the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 includes the adoption and implementation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) National Cybersecurity Plan. This serves as a cybersecurity road map for the integrated development and strategic direction.

Still, there is much work to be done. The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center said that in 2023, the shopping scam rate in the Philippines reached 35.9 percent, the highest among 11 Asian countries surveyed. This shows that Filipinos need to be more circumspect about their online actions and be conscious that these may carry serious consequences.


In all these, a whole-of-society approach should be prioritized, a model that engages and encourages collaboration among the government, the private sector, and civil society—all working together not only to raise awareness but also to develop innovative tools and enact stronger measures to protect areas vulnerable to cyberattacks.

An example of a whole-of-society approach is the recent launch of the “Be Wais” campaign, a joint undertaking of Citizen Watch Philippines, Bayan Academy, as well as partners from the private sector (Meta) and the government (DICT, Department of Trade and Industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Department of Migrant Workers, and the United States Agency for International Development).


This civic education campaign seeks to increase awareness about scams across various sectors and cultivate a community of mindful consumers who employ critical thinking before any decision-making, especially in online transactions.

Equipping ourselves with the necessary know-how and having a vigilant mindset can already prevent us from falling victim to scams, fraud, and other online illegal acts. It is crucial to protect citizens in cyberspace, raise awareness among the general population, promote financial literacy, and provide them with the necessary skills and tools needed to identify and avoid these deceptive tactics.

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Dindo Manhit is founder and CEO of the Stratbase Group.

TAGS: cybersecurity, opinion

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