February 27, 2017, 3:10 pm
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Tech companies unite to fight ransomware in gov’t IT systems

EASTERN Communications, the country’s pioneering communications service provider, gathered government IT experts to update and prepare them for the latest threats to the country’s cybersecurity.

Participants to the Altitude 2.0 Solutions Forum were oriented on the rising incidence of ransomware—a malware designed to capture data and leave it unrecoverable, except by a decryption key held by attackers for ransom.

This is in light of the series of bold attacks on government websites and the mandate of the newly-formed Department of Information and Communication Technology to intensify the nation’s cybersecurity.

“Our reports say that 2016 will be the year of extortion,” said Christina Bautista, a senior consultant to a global solutions company. “Whereas in previous years ransomware was not that popular in the Philippines, now we have clients coming to us and saying they’re infected with it. There’s now an actual threat.”

Presidential Management Staff Officer Angelo Quimson confirmed that multiple attacks have been launched against their agency. He added their function and direct line to the President make them clear targets, so they exercise clear measures to keep threats at bay.

“In government, information is crucial. More than storing confidential information, we must be able to access data when we need it,” Quimson said, explaining these are requisites in delivering vital services to the public. 

Eastern Communications marketing serviceshead Jed Estanislao meanwhile reiterated that, in this age, institutions cannot afford data loss. “For businesses, these affect bottom line figures. In government, this translates to the dampening of public trust. That is why we should allocate as much capital in warding off cyber attacks, as we do on keeping the trust of our clients and our public.”

Estanislao added that protecting the people’s data is the new mandate for all public institutions, and one that must be observed at every level of the organization. Bautista shared a guideline to her audience: For end users, don’t just click. Middle management must ensure defense solutions are in place, while top management must provide the necessary support to develop their IT arm.

Bautista cautioned that old notions on cyber attacks no longer hold. Attackers are engineering more personal and informed ways to engage their targets. Online profiling is now commonplace and top-level executives are the ones most at risk.  

Authorities in technology are now building up multi-sectoral defenses for increasingly aggressive cyber attacks. Estanislao assured the audience that they will extend their expertise in this pressing matter, “Organizations cannot combat cyber threats alone. Companies like Eastern Communications should do their part. That is why we hope to continue to engage them.”

The Altitude 2.0 Solutions Forum on cybersecurity held its succeeding assemblies last October 7 at the Hill Station Baguio and October 18 at Calamba Premiere International Park.
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