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Spread of malware is first big test for Philippine cybersecurity plan

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Assistant Secretary and cybersecurity group head Allan Cabanlong said the ransomware attack that affected over 100,000 users in at least 99 countries highlights the need for the Philippine government to step up its cybersecurity measures. File

Spread of malware is first big test for Philippine cybersecurity plan

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The massive cyberattack involving a “ransomware” infection that affected several countries, including the Philippines, is the first test for the country’s recently released national cybersecurity plan, officials said yesterday.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Assistant Secretary and cybersecurity group head Allan Cabanlong said the ransomware attack that affected over 100,000 users in at least 99 countries highlights the need for the Philippine government to step up its cybersecurity measures.

Cabanlong said the DICT had built up its capability and capacity for quick response and recovery of data through the establishment of the National Computer Emergency Response Team.

He added the DICT is monitoring the reported ransomware attack that infected thousands of computers worldwide.

“We have been monitoring all threads, including the reported ransomware infections,” Cabanlong said.

Reports said perpetrators demand $300 worth of bitcoin, a form of digital currency used in the cyberspace. 

While some reports cited users based in the Philippines as among those infected by the malware, Cabanlong said they have yet to receive official information from a Filipino who was affected by the massive cyberattack.

Initial reports showed several private users based in the Philippines were among those infected.

Cabanlong said victims may file a report with the DICT in case they are among those infected.

The ransomware, called WCry, encrypts the files in an infected computer and demands payment for users in exchange for the recovery of the files.

Cabanlong said paying ransom to get back the hostaged files is not assured. He said this may also encourage perpetrators to commit similar acts in the future.

He said users should back up their files often and update their security protocols.

Cabanlong said addressing these issues is part of the national cybersecurity plan that they drafted and are currently disseminating across the country.

National Privacy Commission (NPC) commissioner Raymond Liboro urged Filipino internet users to update their security patches.

“Prevention is still the key,” Liboro said. “We are reminding the public of our call to follow data protection hygiene and watch out for suspicious emails and other forms of phishing activities.”

He noted the recent attacks could victimize both individuals and even large organizations, including private companies and government institutions.

“(The perpetrators) can wipe or steal files such as family photos to more precious data, such as the personal information stored on their systems,” Liboro added.

He called on Filipino users to report the cyberattack to the anti-cybercrime division of the Philippine National Police or the National Bureau of Investigation if they have fallen prey to ransomware.

Moreover, data protection officers of private companies and government institutions are required to report to the NPC the breach if it involves personal data of their employees or the public, he said.

“They have to report it to us within 72 hours,” Liboro said, citing the data privacy law.

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