By Miguel Hanz L. Antivola, Reporter

As digital reliance increases, the Philippines is expected to face more cyberattacks in 2024, experts said, urging organizations and individuals to ramp up their cybersecurity measures. 

“For 2024, expect higher incidents of cyber hacks,” Sam Jacoba, founding president of the National Association of Data Protection Officers of the Philippines (NADPOP), said in a Viber message to BusinessWorld on Monday. 

“The government, private sector, and communities of practice have to be more vigilant,” he said. “Do not let up in awareness, education, training, certification, and consistent hardening of critical infrastructure.”

Internet security company Kaspersky earlier said the Philippines was the second most attacked country by web threats last year, with 39,387,052 internet-borne threats detected. The country placed fourth in 2021. 

It also saw 2,409,085 brute force or trial-and-error attacks among remote workers, 52,914 financial phishing cases among businesses, 24,737 crypto-phishing cases, 15,732 mobile malware cases, and 50 mobile banking Trojan cases last year, according to data from Kaspersky. 

Ronald B. Gustilo, national campaigner for Digital Pinoys, said the Department of Information and Communications Technology should set a base standard of cybersecurity infrastructure and recommendations for government agencies, especially those who hold huge amounts of critical data.

“Such agencies should be required to employ stronger cybersecurity infrastructure,” he said in a separate phone message. “All government agencies should also have first responder teams in case of possible data breach.” 

Included in this proposed proactive cybersecurity framework is the need to allocate sufficient budget for necessary technologies and experts, Mr. Gustilo said. 

“It has been so easy to attack the Philippines,” Dominic Ligot, founder and executive director of Data Ethics PH, said on the sidelines of the DevConnect Philippines, Inc. Pro Summit 2023 on Friday last week. 

“If you have an amount to insure, let’s say the GDP [gross domestic product] of the Philippines, then you must be willing to pay a fraction of that amount — anywhere from 1-5%,” he said on cybersecurity equal to economic growth.

NADPOP’s Mr. Jacoba noted the need to deliver at least 1,800 new world-class cybersecurity practitioners in three years, which is 1% of the 180,000 he said the country needs. 

“It will be a significant number that can inspire others to pursue careers in cybersecurity,” he said.

Winston L. Damarillo, DEVCON president, told BusinessWorld that upskilling to produce more cybersecurity experts will continue next year, alongside the mainstream adoption of cybersecurity insurance akin to regulations in the United States. 

“Even our VCs [venture capitalists] are now making sure we have cybersecurity insurance,” he said as an entrepreneur as well.

“People will learn, and some will learn the hard way,” he said about next year. “The consciousness around having cybersecurity readiness and posture will improve.” 

“More companies shall collaborate and work together for resilience. It’s going to get more complicated, but cooperatively we’ll combat it.”

Additionally, Mr. Gustilo of Digital Pinoys recommended adding cybersecurity to the education curriculum. 

“This topic should be taught from basic until secondary education, covering the matter of the pros and cons of using technology, cybersecurity, data privacy, and other relevant matters,” he said.