Digital attacks

VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Perez - The Freeman

The National Bureau of Investigation recently arrested an Information Technology officer allegedly linked to a media outlet and responsible for hacking government websites. The NBI compiled digital evidence pointing to the suspect, as several agencies reported their websites were under attack. Even banks and other companies experienced similar incidents. With the arrest, it is now up to his lawyer to prove his innocence. He implicated an editor and columnist, whom authorities will also address separately.

The arrest marks a step forward, but it is not the end. The accused will undergo rigorous questioning regarding the collected evidence. There is also no guarantee that the attacks will cease, as he may have collaborated with several technology experts. This underscores the risks of placing our lives in cyberspace --there will always be danger.

At a recent journalism conference I attended, the issue of deepfakes was raised. Many perpetrators steal the identities of prominent media personalities and pose them as endorsers of certain herbal products. These deepfakes look and sound real; without a critical eye, many would believe them to be genuine. Consequently, many fall victim to scams where money is deposited into accounts in exchange for goods or promises of more money, only to lose everything instead. These are just some of the dangers posed by the digital landscape. A trusting individual could easily lose everything they have.

Journalists are also vulnerable to such attacks, being the primary targets but often lacking sufficient protection. Cases of cyberbullying against men and women in the media remain unsolved. Some incidents are swept under the rug, never to be discussed again, leaving lasting scars. Perpetrators often hide behind the anonymity of digital platforms. Authorities prioritize addressing issues like national security or child pornography, neglecting other significant cyber threats.

It is high time for authorities to step up in combating cyber-attacks. Legislators should expand the anti-cybercrime law to encompass a broader range of individuals. Simultaneously, organizations must advocate for enhanced cyber security measures to safeguard their names and credibility from being tarnished by a single click.

The NBI's achievement is a step forward, albeit perhaps a small one. Much more remains to be done in the digital battlefield. Forensic capabilities also need enhancement to facilitate easier tracing and accountability of perpetrators. The internet is a free space within our democracy, but it must be handled with care and responsibility. It should not be a tool for attacking or exploiting others, as losing it would be disastrous.

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