Last week, the Philippines officially launched a new cyber platform to enhance the country’s monitoring of cyberthreats. While the scheduled step was just one of many within this ongoing effort, it nonetheless showcased Manila’s ongoing attempts to address its high vulnerability to cyber threats in spite of the challenges that remain under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Not unlike some other key Southeast Asian states, the Philippines has been trying to step up its response to cyber challenges in recognition of its high vulnerability to threats and the traditional lack of attention and funding devoted to this realm (See: “ASEAN Cybersecurity in the Spotlight Under Singapore’s Chairmanship”). While significant issues still remain, including new ones that have emerged under the Duterte administration. the past few years have seen some notable developments as well, including the launch of a new national cybersecurity plan, the setting up of a national computer emergency response team, and the stepping up of some training and education efforts.
One of the ongoing aspects of the country’s wider strategy has been the construction of a cybersecurity management system to monitor cyberthreats. Following a bidding process, this was set to proceed via a joint venture between local firm Integrated Computer Systems (ICS) and Israeli company Verint over an initial licensing period set out for three years.
Earlier this month, this aspect of the Philippines cybersecurity policy was in the headlines again with the official launch of this intelligence sharing platform. The launch of the platform under what has been termed the Cybersecurity Management System Project (CMSP) officially came into effect on January 15 with the issuance of the notice to proceed.
Though it is still early days, the progress with respect to the CMSP is nonetheless notable. Setting up a centralized platform for intelligence sharing for the Philippines would enhance its ability to monitor cyberthreats as well as respond to attacks that occur. As of now, Manila faces no shortage of challenges in this respect, with implications for various aspects including law enforcement, defense, and even aspects of its politics and the holding of elections.
As of now, the CMSP, launched under the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), is set to be completed within a year. At an event following the launch, DICT Assisting Secretary for Cybersecurity and Enabling Technology Allan Cabanlong said the timeline would begin with a first phase where 10 priority government agencies would be identified, including the Office of the President, the National Security Council, and the Department of National Defense.
To be sure, the proceeding of the platform constitutes just one step toward the broader goal of achieving cyber resiliency for the Philippines. And there is no question the country still has a long way to go to achieve this. There is no shortage of challenges that remain this respect, including with the CMSP itself as can be seen with issues such as privacy. But the efforts made nonetheless constitute incremental progress in efforts to address the country’s vulnerability to cyber threats.