By Aubrey Rose A. Inosante

THE PHILIPPINES was hit by an average of five billion cyberattacks per day in the first quarter, with 87% of those targeting the gambling and gaming industry, according to cloud services and cybersecurity provider Cloudflare, Inc.

This marked a 28% increase from 3.9 billion cyberattacks in the fourth quarter of 2023, Cloudflare said in its Quarterly Global Internet Trends & Insights Report released on April 17.

The most targeted sector was the gaming and gambling industry with an 87% share, followed by telecommunications at 6%, hospitality at 5%, and media with 1%, it said.

“There have been more high-volume cyberattacks, e.g. denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, targeting the Philippines’ Internet properties protected by Cloudflare in the last quarter than in the previous one,” Cloudflare said in an e-mailed statement on April 26.

A DDoS attack aims to disrupt Internet services such as websites or mobile applications and make them unavailable for users.

Gambling and gaming were also the top targeted industries in Asia, seeing 53% of total threats, Cloudflare said.

Thailand and Indonesia saw two billion cyberattacks per day with the same top-targeted industry, while Singapore was hit by six billion attacks daily, with its most attacked industry being cryptocurrency, the report showed.

“We observed around two trillion Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests blocked as potential threats (not only DDoS) in the previous quarter in Asia related to the gaming/gambling industry,” it said.

This was also the case globally, as over seven of every 100 DDoS requests mitigated attacked the gaming and gambling industry, followed by the information technology and Internet sector and marketing and advertising, it added.

The online gaming industry is competing for customers in cyberspace, with some even acquiring the services of DDoS attackers to gain market share, according to Allan S. Cabanlong, regional director for Southeast Asia at the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise.

These attacks can cause downtime in gaming sites, leading to a loss in revenue and a decline in player retention, he said.

Extortion is also one of the main objectives of those targeting the gambling industry, said e-commerce advocate Janette Toral.

“Gambling platforms use e-commerce transactions and payments connectivity elements,” Ms. Toral said.

Cloudflare said it served an average of 44 billion daily content requests to the Philippines, with three billion or 6% classified as DDoS attacks originating locally.

Globally, it mitigated 10.5 trillion HTTP DDoS attack requests in the first quarter and blocked 59 petabytes of DDoS attack traffic on the network layer, it said.

The source countries were the United States (19.8%), China (7.73%), Germany (6.5%), Indonesia (6.07%), and Brazil (5.96%).

The quarterly DDoS threat report provides a comprehensive overview of DDoS attack insights and trends over three months. Cloudflare sends an automated survey to victims of a DDoS attack or a ransom note.

Digital Pinoys National Campaigner Ronald B. Gustilo said there must be stiffer fines and penalties for government agencies and private institutions that will be affected by data breaches, depending on the severity of these incidents.