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Cyber warfare escalates in Philippines: The Armed Forces of the Philippines forms exclusive ‘cyber command’ to combat growing menace 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is taking a groundbreaking move in response to the growing threat of cyber attacks. The country’s military is forming an exclusive “cyber command” to combat digital threats, which have become as significant as physical ones.

Recently, Philippine corporations and governmental agencies have fallen victim to a spate of cyber attacks. To address this, AFP General Romeo Brawner announced plans to refine the recruitment process at a media event organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on October 12, 2023.

What’s at stake

The Philippines is grappling with a surge in cyber attacks from state-sponsored and independent entities. According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), cyber crimes skyrocketed by 68.98 percent in 2023, jumping from 11,523 cases in 2022 to 19,472 incidents in 2023.

Recently, Philippine Senate legislative websites, including those of the House of Representatives and the Senate, were breached by anonymous hackers, resulting in temporary shutdowns. The Philippine Star reported further breaches involving major institutions like the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Statistics Authority, leading to consequential data leaks.

In response to these escalating cyber threats, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology to bolster its cyber defense protocols. Meanwhile, Microsoft has launched an educational-based initiative to train in artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity.

This training program, a collaborative effort between various government agencies and educational institutions, aims to enhance cybersecurity knowledge among government workers by equipping them with the skills to identify cybersecurity threats. Philippine Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba praised this initiative, emphasizing its potential to strengthen cybersecurity and foster trust in technology adoption.

The program is also seen as a strategic move to combat the pervasive issue of disinformation – which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defines as the deliberate creation and dissemination of false or manipulated information with the intent to deceive or mislead. By focusing on education, the initiative aims to enhance people’s ability to discern authentic content from manipulated information, ultimately empowering them to make informed decisions in the digital age.

Assessing vulnerability and high-profile cyber attacks

The Philippines is facing an unprecedented cyber crisis, with millions of personal records compromised and critical institutions crippled by ransomware attacks. The nation’s extensive internet use, lack of awareness about cybersecurity, and underdeveloped cybersecurity infrastructure have created a perfect storm of vulnerabilities.

  • In April 2023, a severe data breach exposed the personal details of millions, affecting vital institutions like the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Special Action Force. Compromised data from Philippine government subdomains subsequently appeared in the Russian black market. This incident highlights the devastating consequences of cyber attacks on the country’s critical infrastructure.
  • Ransomware attacks have become a daily threat to key sectors, including finance, government, healthcare, education, and retail. General Brawner has warned that Philippine government institutions are facing near-daily cyber attacks. The situation is further complicated by the involvement of international actors like China’s People’s Liberation Army, which has launched several cyber attacks on the Philippines, targeting sectors related to trade, defense, and external affairs.
  • The country has also faced threats from Russian-speaking ransomware groups and South Korean hackers. This complex cyber threat landscape underlines the urgent need for strengthened cybersecurity measures in the Philippines.

To address these challenges, the government and military are investing in developing its cybersecurity infrastructure, raising awareness about online safety and collaborating with international partners to combat transnational cybercrime.

C8 Secure – Your partner in cybersecurity

As a leading cybersecurity provider, C8 Secure has safeguarded several renowned Philippine brands against the rising tide of cyber threats. Our collaboration with the Philippine National Bank (PNB) has yielded immediate returns and enhanced threat prevention, detection and response capabilities.

We have also partnered with Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), providing comprehensive end-to-end security solutions to safeguard their extensive operations.

Cybersecurity solutions for a safer tomorrow

With cyber threat incidents on the rise in the Philippines, C8 Secure is committed to working closely with corporations and governmental agencies to provide practical, adaptable, preventable and problem-solving security solutions.

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Learn how our expertise can help your organization stay ahead of cyber threats – contact us today!


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