THE GROWING USE of digital technology has not been matched by adequate awareness of attendant threats, according to speakers at BusinessWorld’s first Cybersecurity Forum held at the Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City on Thursday.
National Privacy Commission Chairman Raymund E. Liboro opened the forum with latest official data showing reported data breaches in the Philippines have grown more than threefold to 834 in the 10 months to October period from 221 in full-year 2017.
On Monday, Kaspersky Lab separately reported that the Philippines remained among the top 10 targets of online attacks last quarter, with the number of reported malware incidents jumping more than fourfold to 8.1 million from 1.8 million a year ago.
“The potential now of creating harm… security incidents on individuals is not an exclusive domain of nation states and governments (anymore). Dati ganun eh, kasi sila lang ang may [It used to be that way because they were the only ones that have the] capacity to process data. Now, each of us has the potential to do good with… the data that you process, but you also have the capacity now to harm,” Mr. Liboro said.
He noted that while data breaches could be the result of targeted attacks by cybercriminals, they could also result from system glitches or human error.
“Cybersecurity must take a whole new meaning for everyone, especially since personal data is involved,” Mr. Liboro said.
Genalyn B. Macalinao, policy lead of the Cybersecurity Bureau of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, shared Mr. Liboro’s observation. She said that while automation and digitization do bring big benefits to companies, especially in terms of savings from labor costs, people should remember that increased connectivity comes with risks. “While there is convenience in that… there’s also a risk that comes with it, because anything that’s connected is hackable, anything that’s connected poses a risk,” she said.
Ms. Macalinao noted the government is doing its part to improve data security safeguards, starting with issuance of memorandum circulars that put in operation provisions of the National Cybersecurity Plan. This concern is particularly vital in the fields of banking, telecommunications, business process outsourcing, transportation, media, medical, transportation, water and energy utilities.
Her presentation was followed by Dominic “Doc” Ligot, founder and chief technology officer of CirroLytix Research Services, who discussed the ethical aspect that comes with handling big data. Mr. Ligot said even if companies were compliant with the Data Privacy Act, such laws cannot cover all possible forms of misuse of data.
“Data privacy is not the problem, it’s the symptom. The fundamental problem is the misuse of data,” he said.
“Compliance (with the Data Privacy Act) is a reaction… But ethics is more proactive. We have to create ethical companies.” — D. A. Valdez