As of January 2023, the Philippines is home to over 80 million social media users, which is about 72.5% of its national population, online reference library DataReportal says. However, the rapid growth of social media users has vulnerabilities and risks, including those associated with cyber threats. As the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) presents its Cybersecurity Month last October, the agency organized mini-events to guide and help Filipinos with their social media use and equip them with knowledge on cybersecurity.
On October 23 at the DICT building in Diliman, Quezon City, the agency, together with Digital Pilipinas, co-presented a two-hour event focusing on the commitment signing of the big four social media platforms and private organizations to mitigate the risks of cyber attacks. Present at the commitment signing were DICT’s Secretary Ivan Uy and Undersecretary Jeffrey Dy, together with Google’s Atty. Yves Gonzalez, Meta Country Head of Public Policy for the Philippines and Thailand Clare Amador, and TikTok Head of Public Policy for the Philippines and Malaysia Toff Rada.
Pervasiveness of social media gives way to cybersecurity priorities and collaborations
Social media has evolved over the last few years from a platform for exchanging messages; it is now a vital tool for establishing online presence and credibility amongst individuals and even businesses. Opening up the social media event, Usec. Dy gave a quick but personal view on the role that Filipinos must take in the cyberspace.
“In the spirit of ‘sama-sama para sa cyberseguridad, ‘ we encourage every citizen, business, and organization to actively participate in this shared responsibility,” said the undersecretary. “Cybersecurity is not just a duty for the government…but every one of us. It is the collective duty of every Filipino.”
“The scale, speed, and level of penetration of digitalization in our everyday lives is unprecedented,” Sec. Uy said in his speech. The DICT secretary added that with the presence of the ASEAN, more cybercriminals are luring into the country. In fact, in recent weeks, the Philippines has seen a series of breaches targeting various government agencies, such as the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), to name a few.
In line with this, the DICT secretary, with the help of the big four social media platforms—Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Meta (NASDAQ: META), YouTube, and TikTok—private organizations and key representatives in the space vow to collaborate and fight against the dangers in the digital world.
“This is one of the first initiatives in Asia for all four platforms to come together in order to address the increasing social concern—a criminal concern. Today, we have come together, to work together, to collaborate in order to make the world a safer digital world,” Sec. Uy remarked.
“Today we set a very strong message for cybercriminals, that no matter what you do, we in the digital arena—the digital regulators, the digital operators, the digital providers—will work together in securing the digital space and ensuring the protection of every Filipino,” he added.
Following the commitment signing was a fireside chat with Amor Maclang and Usec. Dy, focusing still on vulnerabilities in the digital space and the three pillar concerns the agency would venture with the private sectors in 2024, namely bringing digital services like the eGov app to every Filipino, guiding private sectors to achieve digital literacy, and outlining guidelines for cybersecurity.
Digital security must start from all of us, above all else
Leaning into the crucial part of the program, a panel discussion moderated by nChain’s Business Development lead in the Philippines, Stephanie Tower, tackled the responsibility of private organizations in cybersecurity together with Patrick Signo, the head manager of Materia Logic; John Garritty, Chief of Party at USAID/Philippines Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) Activity; Sam Jacoba, the Founding President of NADPOP & PH Cert VP; and Gonz Gonzales, the President of Cloud Security Alliance – Philippine Chapter.
Leading the conversation, Tower asked crucial questions such as why it’s essential to have a multi-sectoral approach in addressing cyber defenses in the nation and around the world and how critical cybersecurity infrastructure is in securing data.
Answering the latter question, Garritty said that the key element to point out regarding cybersecurity infrastructure is its design, and one of the things that challenged them globally at USAID is the use of different slang terms the mass is unfamiliar with.
As for Signo, he believes social media plays a huge role in educating the public about cybersecurity. “On any social media platform, it’s important to educate users about the implications of cybersecurity, even the negative ones. Overall, social media is poised to be the next big thing for people to learn about technology,” he said.
Digital Pilipinas concluded the two-hour event by inviting everyone to their upcoming Digital Pilipinas x Philippine Fintech Festival coming November 20 – 24 at the SMX Aura Convention Center in Taguig City. To secure your tickets just visit their official website here.
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