Unprepared for cyber threats | SunStar

Unprepared for cyber threats

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Unprepared for cyber threats

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Wake-up call. IBM Philippines president and general manager Luis Pineda says cyber attacks such as the $81-million heist on the Bangladesh Bank and the data leaks on the Commission on Elections should push public and private entities to step up their cyber security measures. (Sun.Star Photo/Alex Badayos)

TWENTY-seven percent of enterprises and government sectors in the Philippines are still ill-prepared when it comes to cyber-security threats, a global study of IBM revealed.

But the recent cyber attacks such as the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) data leaks have pushed enterprises and the government to step up their shield against these cyber crimes, which, if not addressed, could cause damage in reputation, financial robbery, and threats to national security, according to IBM Philippines Luis Pineda.

Pineda said these events have highlighted the country’s vulnerability but these served as a wake-up call.

“It is a true wake-up call, putting security at the center of every discussion,” he said.

Only 17 percent of Philippine enterprises and government agenciess are cyber-secured while some companies or organizations are still in the process of building their security capability.

IT security has emerged as the top risk for decision makers in Asia Pacific. The study noted that threats continue to rise in numbers, scale and sophistication. Eighty-percent of cyber attacks are driven by highly organized crime rings.

“There really is an opportunity to improve the security posture in the Philippine enterprises and government sectors today. With the negative things that happened, at least people are now more aware,” Pineda noted, adding that the issue on cyber security has evolved from being merely a technical issue in the IT department into a central topic in the board room.

“This (shift) is a good thing because it is not all about technology here,” Pineda said. He warned that today’s threats are much more advanced and that the way cybercriminals move are much more organized than the organization they are attacking.

These complexities, according to Pineda, require a higher-level of skill and knowledge which he said the country lacks.

“The skill needed and the knowledge required to defend from these threats have really gone up. They are not easy skills to actually find. Unfortunately, the Philippines does not have that many experts. We don’t have the volume of people and resources to meet the skills required for security, even leaders of organizations have not updated their understanding of the threats,” said Pineda.

He suggested that greater effort on awareness and education should be in place.

“Surviving the tide of competition and cyber threats requires the exercise of a timeless Filipino virtue of bayanihan,” said Pineda. “Competition and cyber crimes are challenges not confined to the business community but are issues that should be tackled by all different areas of the community.”

Collaborative sharing of information is a powerful tool to combat risks and threats brought about by these attacks, said Pineda. He noted there should be a willingness of all industry players to collaborate to elevate the country’s defense against these threats.

“The government needs to have stronger oversight and laws and engage in industry collaboration. Cross-border sharing of information must be strengthened,” said Pineda.

He added that IBM is also open to allowing their experts to share best practices when it comes to elevating security measures. Companies, on the other hand, need to invest in high-level security technology to remain protected.

Cybercrime is costing the global economy more than $445 billion annually. Over 20 million financial records in banks were breached in 2015. The cost of these data breaches in finance is significant, costing financial institutions $215 per stolen record on average.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 10, 2016.

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