Gov’t cyberattacks expose critical security gaps, citizen concerns

By Dominic Ligot

In recent cyberattacks on government agencies in the Philippines, sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) have been targeted by hackers.

These breaches have raised concerns about the downplaying of the value of the stolen data, the lack of investment in cyber defenses, the emergence of hacktivism, and the erosion of citizens’ trust in government cybersecurity.

  1. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Under Threat

Hackers have been actively targeting government websites and systems to obtain sensitive PII. The breach of the House of Representatives’ website is a stark reminder of the value of such information. PII includes names, addresses, dates of birth, and phone numbers, which can be exploited or sold to other cyber criminals for malicious purposes.

  1. Downplaying the Value of Stolen Data

In the wake of these cyberattacks, there is a concerning trend of downplaying the value of the data taken. The initial dismissal of ransom demands, as seen in the PhilHealth attack, can lead to further data exposure. It is crucial to recognize the significance of PII and take proactive measures to protect it.

  1. Insufficient Investment in Cyber Defenses

The attacks on the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) systems highlight a lack of investment in cyber defenses, both in terms of technology and expertise. Government agencies must prioritize cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access.

  1. Rise of Hacktivism

The recent breaches also shed light on hacktivism, where cyberattackers leverage their skills to promote a cause or send a message. The defacement of the House of Representatives’ website with a message from the hackers underscores the need for government agencies to be prepared for various forms of cyberthreats, including those driven by ideological motivations.

  1. Loss of Citizen Trust

Perhaps the most significant consequence of these cyberattacks is the loss of trust by citizens. When government websites and systems are compromised, citizens may question the government’s ability to protect their data and ensure cybersecurity. Rebuilding this trust will require transparent communication, swift action, and enhanced security measures.

In conclusion

The recent cyberattacks on government agencies in the Philippines serve as a wake-up call. Personally identifiable information is a valuable target for hackers, and the government must take steps to protect it.

Acknowledging the significance of stolen data, investing in cybersecurity, and addressing hacktivism are essential for safeguarding citizens’ trust in government institutions. It is time for a comprehensive and proactive approach to cybersecurity in the public sector.

Dominic Ligot is a data analyst, software developer, and technologist. He is the founder of Data Ethics PH and CirroLytix. Ligot’s work leverages artificial intelligence for social good.