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Philippines prioritizing cybersecurity in defense policy, official says

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Philippines prioritizing cybersecurity in defense policy, official says

The Philippine government has boosted cybersecurity as a national defense priority following last year's cyberattacks.

The country's military has developed guidelines for cybersecurity operations across all units, bringing the protection of cyberspace into line with the government's other four priorities — land, sea, air and space — Department of National Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna said during the Aug. 29 Cyber Attack Manila conference.

Luna cited a 2018 incident where a number of government websites were repeatedly targeted. "Clearly, there is an intent on the part of cyberattackers to disrupt operations of Southeast Asian countries, including ours, targeting critical infrastructure."

The issue has been featured in government policy since 2017, when the National Cybersecurity Plan 2022 was unveiled. Since then, the defense department has partnered with various technology companies to better understand threats posed, Luna said. The department also met with Facebook Inc. representatives earlier this year to discuss terrorists' exploitation of the social media platform "for radicalization and recruitment," Luna said. The parties have considered working together to protect the Philippine cyberspace from misuse.

"Above all ... we acknowledge that we cannot attain resilience in isolation," the undersecretary said. "As cyberthreats have become transnational in nature, it is just fitting to tap international cooperation."

The Department of National Defense has entered into international partnerships, such as with Australia and New Zealand, to jointly build cyber infrastructure. A cyber portal, which will become a venue for information sharing among member countries, has also been created. Cooperation has included sharing simulations of cyberattacks to practice how to respond.

The military's modernization program includes a Philippine navy cyber laboratory and security operations center.