PH needs more cybersecurity professionals as criminals start to target ‘critical infra’
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Should cyber attacks hit all critical infrastructure, revenue losses in the Philippines could reach as high as P6.15 billion per day.
And this is why cybersecurity experts urged stakeholders, including the government, to increase the pool of cybersecurity professionals in the country.
At the 15th Media Seminar by the United States Embassy Manila, titled ‘Building Blocks: The US-Philippine Partnership for a Prosperous and a Cyber-secure Digital Economy’, it was revealed that the number of skilled cybersecurity professionals in the Philippines is insufficient to counter the huge volume of cyberattacks it faces.
“The Philippines aspires to become a regional leader in the digital economy. In this context, the need to protect the new economy through cybersecurity is even more important,” said US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson in a pre-recorded speech during the seminar held in a hotel in North Reclamation Area, Cebu City.
According to John Avila, senior economic growth specialist of USAID, the country only has around 200 skilled cybersecurity professionals.
But three out of four companies in the Philippines experience cyberthreats, said Carlos Ely Tingson, senior vice president at cyber risk advisor Kroll.
“The Philippines is one of the most targeted (countries in terms of cyber attacks) in the Asia-Pacific, next to Malaysia,” said Tingson.
Critical Infra Threatened
In addition, experts reported seeing a shift in cyber criminals’ behavior in which they have begun targeting ‘critical information infrastructure (CII)’ instead of consumers.
“Any attack, and disruption in CI operation can have a debilitating impact,” said Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos from Secure Connections.
Citing the 2021 PSEI (Philippine Stock Exchange Inc.,) financial report, the cost of cyber attacks made on all CIIs can go up to P6.15 billion in revenue losses, she said.
“PSEI identified at least six industries that are closely vulnerable to attacks, these are; banks, transportation, telecommunications, energy, water and healthcare. But this does not include the government, and the growing outsourcing industry in the Philippines,” added Mirandilla-Santos.
Cyberprotection in the BPO industry
The Philippines remains one of the top preferred outsourcing destinations for US-based firms.
Kanishka Gangopadhyay, press attachè at US Embassy, Manila, pointed out that increasing the number of cybersecurity professionals here is critical as the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry continues to grow.
Cybersecurity protection is one of the major considerations for US companies planning to outsource, said Gangopadhyay, and that the state of cybersecurity in the Philippines has emerged as a concern for the United States.
Around 60 percent of ‘highly critical information’ on Wall Street is processed in BPO companies operating here, ultimately making the Philippines a prime target for cybercriminals, he added.
In turn, the US government has invested programs for training and scholarship to beef up the number of cybersecurity professionals, said Saptarshi Basu, US Embassy in the Philippines Economic Officer.
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