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We are all targets of cybercrime


Surfing the internet and various social media and e-commerce platforms has become very amusing that it’s so easy to be fooled by seemingly innocent clickbaits that may lead to malicious infiltration of one’s device

Cybercrime is on the rise, and we are all targets.

According to recently released data from the Cybercrime Investigation Coordinating Center (CICC), cybercrime incidents have spiked by 152 percent with 6,250 cases recorded in the first half of this year.

The same lifesaving technology that enables the world to survive the pandemic crisis has become the new weapon of cyber criminals for the commission of traditional crimes.

There is a constant risk of financially motivated attacks such as scams, estafa, swindling, fraud, counterfeiting and forgery.

As netizens and mobile phone users, we are already receiving daily anonymous and creatively crafted messages to deceive us into giving sensitive personal information that will be used to hack into bank accounts or e-wallets.

As these cyber syndicates get more information on the online habits of a potential target, vulnerabilities to a person’s reputation may be exploited for black mail schemes.

So many scandals have become viral and have damaged the personas of public figures.

Viewed by millions, these are often obscene and indecent images that offend a person’s sensitivities and have a damaging effect on society’s moral fabric.

Cybercrime is a national security concern as governments are exposed to espionage activity, sabotage, disruption, and politically motivated attacks.

Terrorist groups have been able to use cyberspace for their recruitment and propaganda activities.

This is a dimension of what is now a digitally dependent global environment that all of society must learn to live with.

Having a safe and trusted digital environment is vital to economic resilience and growth.

As we trek this unstoppable journey toward a systemic and hopefully inclusive digital transformation, we must learn to live in both the physical and digital world where the interconnections of opportunities and risks will pose socio-cultural and governance challenges.

Aligned with our ongoing consumer advocacy in CitizenWatch Philippines, we are honored to be engaged as one of the partners of the CICC to help build an anti-cybercrime consciousness among consumers.

During our MOA signing held last Friday, CICC Executive Director, Undersecretary Alexander K. Ramos said that the partnership aims to reach targeted consumers and empower them through cybersecurity training and awareness campaigns.

“Partnerships with government is the solution to cybercrimes,” USec Ramos said.

The CICC is working on a National Cyber Security Plan wherein fighting fraud will be a top priority.

Indeed, there is a gap in cybersecurity awareness among consumers that needs to be addressed as it is the first line of defense against cyber crime activities.

Surfing the internet and various social media and e-commerce platforms has become very amusing that it’s so easy to be fooled by seemingly innocent clickbaits that may lead to malicious infiltration of one’s device.

Cybercrime actors are able to harness the marketing algorithms and artificial intelligence of e-commerce platforms and post ads that can lead to fraud, counterfeit products, and online piracy sites.

Government is just beginning to understand how incompatible the current policy environment is, and it is good to see reforms are underway to upgrade our laws and regulations to be more responsive with the non-linear and dynamic nature of digital technologies and the fast pace of new innovations.

House Bill 7028 approved earlier this year in the Committee on trade and industry, chaired and authored by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, will help boost the creative industry by eliminating unauthorized or pirated content.

It will empower the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines to shut down websites sharing copyrighted material. A Senate version authored by Sen Jinggoy Estrada is also pending at committee level and will hopefully move forward.

The Department of Trade and Industry is driving the passage of the proposed Internet Transactions Act to institutionalize mechanisms to protect both merchants and consumer transactions online which would include an online business registry and the implementation of an eCommerce Philippine Trustmark.

Just a few days ago, unregistered SIM cards were supposed to have been deactivated in compliance with the SIM registration law that aims to purge the proliferation of anonymous mobile accounts being used for scam syndicates.

As of this writing, I am still receiving these SMS messages egging me to click their links with cash incentives in partnership with legitimate banks and e-payment platforms to look legitimate.

The President has made several pronouncements pushing for the digital transformation of the government bureaucracy and the acceleration of much needed digital infrastructure as mandated by his recently issued EO 32 streamlining the permitting process telco tower and broadband service related projects.

As consumers, we must become responsible cyber citizens who are aware of our rights to data privacy and be discerning and cautious when we are doing our business online as we are in face to face transactions.

Digital transactions may be convenient and efficient, but online transactions take away the inter-personal feedback and nuances that we have been instinctively using in our dealings as consumers or sellers.

The internet is now an indispensable utility essential to our work and personal lifestyle. Fighting cybercrime needs synergy between the telco networks, the consumers, and the government.

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