THE other week, I was fortunate enough to join about 20 other Philippine software companies exhibiting in the Japanese trade expo, SODEC.

The day before the trade expo, the Philippine Software Industry Association, together with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Information and Communications Technology, also held a seminar to interested Japan companies that might want to collaborate with Philippine software companies. It was great that the turnout was well over a hundred.

However, there are lessons to be learned. At the end, we need to evaluate. What I noticed is really a difference in the attitude. On various trips to Japan, I have met there Filipinos and Chinese. Most of the Chinese I met knew how to speak Japanese, while the Filipinos could not. Why? Because the Chinese know that if they want a job or business, they need to adapt to the culture and learn the language, whereas the attitude of the Filipino would be—Do you need English? I know English. It’s the universal language, so why bother to learn your language?

English skills may make us easily attractive and an obvious choice for English-speaking countries, but are obviously working against us in tapping the European and Japanese markets. In the exhibits, there were big companies in China and Vietnam offering outsourcing (with Japanese speaking and writing skills). And obviously from the size of their booths, and the number of interested parties, there were far more Japanese interested to work with companies that speak their language than those that were looking for English skills.

A few years ago, I went to Dalian, China, and practically there were hundreds of Japanese companies set up there serving the Japanese market, employing tens of thousands of programmers, and earning well over billions every year. And this is due only to one practical reason—they know Japanese.

On another front, the computer world was attacked with ransomware. What did it do? The virus, which was called WannaCry, infected over 300,000 computers in 15 countries, most of which were still using the Windows XP Program.

The Windows XP is already over 16 years old, and a few years ago, Microsoft stopped supporting it and giving patches. Obviously, there was a vulnerability that was discovered, and while this was patched in newer Windows OS, Windows XP was not, and therefore, infected. The ransomware effectively encrypted the files so the user could not use them unless they paid a few hundred dollars to the hackers for a password.

It would have been disastrous, except that the hack authors probably also made some fundamental mistakes. First is that they had no tracking on who paid or who did not pay, and obviously the password was almost similar. The other was that they made the mistake of hardcoding an IP address into their code, and once the IP was properly registered, the software stopped spawning.

There is a lesson to be learned, and it will always be the same lesson. By the same token that when you are not careful, there will always be terrorists or bank robberies, cybersecurity cannot be taken lightly. As more people become reliant on technology, more companies will find it profitable to make money by hacking, and attacking the vulnerabilities.