Gov’t urges ‘hackers ng bayan’ to help shore up PH cybersecurity

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Gov’t urges ‘hackers ng bayan’ to help shore up PH cybersecurity
The first project involves making PhilSys, the government's national ID system, more secure

MANILA, Philippines – Privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro urged Filipino white hat hackers to help the government improve the Philippines’ national cybersecurity capabilities at a hacking conference called Rootcon 12 held in Tagaytay City on Thursday, September 27.

White hat hackers are ethical cybersecurity experts that do digital security testing and do not perform malicious operations like black hat hackers do. 

The collaboration with the hackers, whom Liboro endearingly called “hackers ng bayan,” will encompass multiple government information and communications technology (ICT) projects, but will start with the national ID initiative, Philippine Identification System (PhilSys). (READ: National ID law: Here’s the law, plus quick summary)

Addressing the Rootcon crowd, Liboro said: “We can do a lot more to help protect the data that will come out of PhilSys processing. You can do your part in it as well as ‘hackers ng bayan’ and indeed I strongly urge you to help government make this right. The need for your voice is now more acute. Your country needs you more than ever.”

PhilSys is scheduled to launch in December 2018, with the Philippine Statistics Authority as the implementing agency, assisted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). 

Securing PhilSys from hacks and breaches is extremely crucial as its database will hold the personal information of Philippine citizens and resident aliens. 

Liboro said strong cybersecurity capabilities is a pillar for the country’s digital transformation, which is key to enabling the government to “deliver basic services at the same level of efficiency as the private sector.” 

Information Security Officers Group (ISOG) officer Archieval Tolentino – among the 300 hackers at the event from the corporate world and the digital underground – expressed his approval for the collaboration. “I think it’s about time that we do it, especially with the NPC leading this era of [privacy] awakening for the people, and especially for hackers. It would lead to a shift in the way people see hackers,” Tolentino said.

Liboro also announced the upcoming project “hackBAYAN,” where at least 30 local white hat hackers will form an expert panel helping PhilSys managers gauge risks, identify problem areas, and implement risk reduction strategies for the upcoming ID system. The NPC also hopes that knowledge learned from this initial collaboration may be applied in other future projects relating to cybersecurity. –

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