Privacy agency taps ‘white hat hackers’ to secure PhilSys

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has asked the assistance of “white hat hackers” in the country to help secure data-driven government projects, including the soon-to-be implemented national identification system.

Privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro urged local white hat hackers, or computer security specialists who expose the vulnerabilities of the website before the malicious hackers or black hat hackers detect them and exploit them, to make the implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) “right.”

“We can do a lot more to help protect the data that will come out of PhilSys processing. You can do your part in it as well as ‘hackers ng bayan.’ The need for your voice is now more acute. Your country needs you more than ever,” Liboro said.

President Duterte signed last month the PhilSys law which will provide a unique identification number for every Filipino.

Liboro said the NPC and the Philippine Statistics Authority would soon team up for a project called “hackBAYAN” in which at least 30 local white hats shall be enlisted to help PhilSys managers fully gauge the risks of running it, help identify potential problem areas, and implement appropriate risk reduction and mitigation strategies.

Results of a study under the project would serve as a guide for securing PhilSys and provide a pattern for many similar collaborations aimed at strengthening public digital institutions.

According to Liboro, one of the biggest challenges for the government is how to deliver basic services at the same level of efficiency as the private sector.

He said this could only be done through digital transformation.

“The challenge right now is that our people expect the government to give the same level of efficiency that they get from the private sector. Meaning, it’s no longer enough for government now to simply reform. It must pursue rapid, robust and sometimes bold transformation. And we must transform digitally,” Liboro said.

Liboro said the fastest and safest route to digital transformation would be through an active collaboration between the government and “patriotic hackers.”

“As the country leading experts on the offensive and defensive aspects of data security, you as ‘hackers ng bayan’ or ‘hack-bayani,’ are at the center of every data protection effort. It is you who will design and implement the structures that keep our data safe. No longer will you be the unsung heroes keeping our boat afloat. You will be at the vanguard, keeping threats and hazards at bay, so that everyone’s data will remain safely private,” Liboro said.


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