A consumer advocacy group has lauded the President's approval of the National Cybersecurity Plan 2024-2029 amid the rising incidence of cyber attacks targeting the government and private sector.

'We strongly support the President's approval of the National Cybersecurity Plan as it is critical to the development of a thriving digital economy that will be a key driver of sustained growth and inclusive prosperity,' CitizenWatch Philippines co-convenor and former lawmaker Kit Belmonte said.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan Uy recently announced the approval of the comprehensive five-year plan to operationalize the strengthening of the country's defense against cyber attacks.

Belmonte pointed out that the recent cyber attack attempts on Philippine government websites that were successfully thwarted by the DICT amplifies the urgency to equip all sectors, from the institution to individual level, with cybersecurity skills and technology.

'The landscape of cybercrime and nation-state attacks is constantly evolving with creatively deceiving tactics, posing an ever-increasing threat. This calls for nothing less than a vigilant and strategic approach in fortifying our cybersecurity defenses,' Belmonte said.

He added that all government agencies must implement robust security measures to safeguard not only the organization but also its stakeholders that need to interact with their systems to avail themselves of public services.

He said private enterprises must protect both their businesses and their customers from hackers using their brands for scams.

'For all consumers and net users, our obligation in addressing cybersecurity risks is to exercise secure online behaviors, consisting of the use of sturdy passwords, often updating software, being cautious of suspicious emails and links, and be very protective of personal information to help maintain the security of our devices, data, and e-banking accounts.'

In a report, Globe Telecom said 1.1 billion scam and spam messages that were blocked in the first quarter of 2023 showed a staggering increase of about five times compared to the same period in 2022, 'which emphasizes the alarming intensification of cyber attacks we are facing.'

'The government should deepen its collaboration with private tech firms to appropriately integrate these scam-blocking technologies and also incentivize investments in cybersecurity initiatives,' Belmonte said.

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