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Monday, March 4, 2024

Digital movement against cybercrime gains gov’t support

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Digital Pilipinas and the Bank of the Philippine Islands launched the TrustTech Movement—a  strategic unified approach to combat cybercrime, gaining support from government institutions such as the Department of Justice, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, National Privacy Commission, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and National Security Council.

Executives of Digital Pilipinas, BPI and various public and private sector agencies showcase the future of TrustTech with the emerging trends of cybersecurity.

This is in response to the alarming surge in cybercrime incidents which the PNP described as one of the greatest threats to the public. Records show that in the first half of 2023, Philippine businesses were hit by more than 6,200 cases of cybercrime.

Digital Pilipinas is the largest private-sector led movement for creating an innovation and technology ecosystem in the country that is actively engaged in a global digital economy through its domestic and international trajectories.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. addressed this issue in his recent State of the Nation Address, saying, “Digital users and consumers shall be protected from identity theft, phishing, other online scams, through essential systems and safeguards, such as cybersecurity, data privacy, consumer complaint mechanisms and financial literacy campaigns.” 

The TrustTech platform is a critical pillar for fostering positive and lasting relationships between consumers, regulators, legacy brands, startups, investors and academe in the tech industry. It will take on a whole-of-nation, a whole-of-business, and a whole-of-society approach to cybersecurity, bringing together the government and private sector in close biannual cooperation through multiple smaller projects and sandboxes. 

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DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said cyber protection requires the engagement of every stakeholder. “Every one of us plays an equally crucial role in educating ourselves. Together, we foster a culture of digital resiliency and collaboration across sectors so we can ensure a safer online environment for our nation,” he said.

Rep. Irwin Tieng, chairperson of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, gave the connection between consumer education, cyber protection and nation-building.  “There is a need to educate consumers about cyber scams, improve cybersecurity, and hold criminals accountable. By preventing cyber-attacks, we build up consumer trust and ultimately stimulate business and economic progress,” he said.

Collaboration with the public is also a prerequisite to cyber victory, starting with teaching them about the issue. Undersecretary Alexander Ramos of the DICT-Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center said the solution does not just involve technology but “a behavioral analysis … We need to change the norms and practices of end users—and involve education as part of it.”

DICT assistant secretary Jeffrey Dy underscored another pillar for online defense: “We want to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals. We want to include, as part of government service, the portfolio of government professionals in cybersecurity,” he said.

Atty. Leandro Angelo Aguirre, NPC deputy commissioner, said a digital lifestyle safe against cyberattacks would take “not just one company, one regulator, but a whole-of-nation approach that will really bring them all together, and give them all the tools necessary to provide that level of trust so people can take advantage of the benefits of what we can get from the internet.”

Jovelyn Hao, acting deputy director for BSP’s Fintech Innovation and Policy Research Group, said digitalization, an objective of many national line agencies, cannot be achieved “if we forget about the cybersecurity component. If we want consumers to continuously use financial services, they need to be continuously trusting the system.”

Cornelio Valencia, NSC assistant director-general, described one platform that can be allocated to TrustTech. “We can coordinate government or private sector or relevant sectors for developing appropriate and effectives measures for cybersecurity, strengthening cybersecurity capability [against] existing and future threats.”

PCPT Michelle Sabino, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police – Anti-Cybercrime Group, said collaboration, especially in information-sharing, among the various government agencies is critical to shutting down cybercriminals. “Information can be used with other agencies, and we’ll be able to investigate crimes more accurately and easily.”

TG Limcaoco, president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines, said TrustTech provides “an opportunity to reimagine the way we operate and interact in our digital ecosystems. By leveraging the latest technologies, embracing robust security measures, and prioritizing consumer protection, we can create an environment that instills trust, encourages innovation, and promotes sustainable growth.” 

Limcaoco, who is also president and CEO of BPI, also gave the seeds for its success.  “TrustTech requires a unified effort, a whole-of-nation approach, with the public and private sectors working together to safeguard financial systems and protect the public and fortify our digital systems,” he said.

Digital Pilipinas Convenor Amor Maclang said that in a space as agile as technology, trust has emerged as a critical pillar for fostering positive and lasting relationships. “In response to the President’s thrust to curb money crimes which he mentioned as one of his priority legislations, the birth of TrustTech and through capacity-building multilateral and cross-border partnerships and resource-sharing workstreams with the support of the national government. We look forward to building a digital lifestyle that is safe for everyone,”  she said. Maclang said TrustTech “will bring together the government and private sector in close bi-annual cooperation through multiple smaller projects and sandboxes. Because that’s how we do it in tech: we start small and win big.”  

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