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Filipino General Admits Military Is Vulnerable To Cyber Attack

March 27, 2015

Image that conveys vulnerabilityThe last time the Philippine government defined its strategy to counter cyber threats, Facebook had just launched from a Harvard dorm. Twitter didn’t exist yet and neither did Gmail.

Interestingly, when the National Cybersecurity Plan was published in August 2004, it foreshadowed a lot of grave problems organizations are struggling with a decade later.

Problems like how critical infrastructure can be targeted for exploitation and sabotage. Ten years before Edward Snowden collaborated with a filmmaker and a freelance journalist, the National Cybersecurity Plan identified belligerent countries and intelligence agencies as the two most likely suspects in cyber attacks.

Terrorism and organized crime, along with disgruntled employees out for revenge, stewed at the bottom of the rogue’s gallery.

The Philippine government is no stranger to cyber attacks. Between 2012 and 2013 multiple .gov.ph sites were brought down or defaced. To think the Cybercrime Prevention Act or R.A. 10175 was passed in 2012.

In 2013, Francis Domingo, a security researcher and writer, discussed the need for someone to man the ramparts and guard against cyber threats in an opinion piece for a national newspaper.

Until now just who exactly should man the proverbial ramparts is a question mark. Cyber war may generate a lot of buzz in military and defense circles, but at the end of the day it doesn’t kill anyone. Yet.

During a recent security conference, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. Virgilio O. Domingo, acknowledged that cyber attacks can be very damaging and it was about time a strategy was in place to deal with it.

“We in the armed forces community recognize cyberspace as a new domain in military operations,” Lt. Gen. Domingo told his audience during a keynote address.

“It could lead to a paralysis in the military command and control systems, which only highlights the importance of a secured and uncompromised cyberspace,” Lt. Gen. Domingo added.

Domingo was speaking on behalf of Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang, who was supposed to attend Protect 2015, an annual security summit for defense contractors, vendors, and multinationals.

Whether the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has a cyber war unit is unknown, although the Department of National Defense (DND) maintains a C4ISTAR facility to thwart cyber attacks.

In his speech Lt. Gen. Domingo hinted at a shared effort to diminish cyber risk, which is practical, since the Philippines’ IT sector is vast–and still growing.

“Thus we in the military and you in the business sector have the greatest responsibility to ensure the public safety and security of the country are well-defended and secure,” Lt. Gen. Domingo said.

While Lt. Gen Domingo avoided specifics, at least he reassured his audience the AFP is prepared for the threats of this century and not the previous one.

Protect 2015 is organized by Leverage International (Consultants) Inc., whose offices are in Legaspi Village, Makati. Their contact details are found here.

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