Senator fears increased China ‘cyberespionage attacks’ vs PH ahead of 2022 polls
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday warned of a possible increase in Chinese “cyberespionage attacks” against the Philippines, which she said can be used to influence the country’s national elections in 2022.
“Hindi na ako magugulat kung mangingialam sa ating eleksyon ang Tsina. Klaro namang gagawin nila ang lahat para ma-angkin ng tuluyan ang ating mga karagatan at teritoryo sa West Philippine Sea, at kasama na dito ang pagtatalaga ng lider na hindi kokontra sa utos nila,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
(I will no longer be surprised if China will intervene in our elections. It’s clear that they will do everything in their power to claim our territory and rights in the West Philippine Sea, including supporting a leader who will not oppose them.)
“China’s cyberwarfare and disinformation campaigns will be one of the biggest threats to our national security and our democracy,” she added.
Hontiveros cited the report of cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, which detected “rare, wide-scale advanced persistent threat” by a “Chinese-speaking threat actor” against users in Southeast Asia, most notably in the Philippines and Myanmar.
The firm said it identified some 1,400 users in the Philippines, including government entities, who have fallen victim to spear-phishing emails containing a “malicious” Word document.
“While initially focusing their attention on Myanmar, the attackers have since shifted their focus to the Philippines,” Kaspersky earlier said.
Hontiveros urged the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to immediately look into Kaspersky’s report immediately.
The senator said these agencies should also issue protocols that all Filipinos can follow to protect themselves from “China’s cyberintrusions.”
“The DND and DICT should strengthen our cyberdefense framework, and at the same time, Filipino users should be made aware of how we can protect ourselves from cyberattacks,” she said.
“Walang respeto sa ating soberanya ang Tsina kaya tayo na mismo sa Pilipinas ang dapat maging mapagbantay. Tulong-tulong nating siguraduhin na ang interes at kapakanan ng Pilipinas ay napapanindigan,” she added.
(China has no respect for our sovereignty, that’s why we should be vigilant. We should come together and ensure that the interest and welfare of the Philippines is upheld.)
Hontiveros’ warning also came after former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, citing information from a “most reliable international entity,” said ranking Chinese officials have been bragging that they were able to shape the outcome of Philippines’ elections in 2016, which installed President Rodrigo Duterte in power.
On Monday, Duterte denied that China influenced the 2016 elections and even accused Del Rosario of treason.
Malacañang also called the former foreign affairs chief’s claim “nonsense.”
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