Hackers in the Philippines were fed up with bad internet. So they hacked into the Twitter account of a national telecommunications provider to make their demands.

“As the pandemic arises, Filipinos need fast internet to communicate with their loved ones. Do your job,” they tweeted from the account. Covid-19 has brought with it a surge in cyber hacks. The Philippines Department of ICT plans to spend US$21 million to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protect the country’s critical information infrastructure.

As the Philippines enters a time of rapid change, it will need to improve systems to manage three key risks.

More sophisticated, intense attacks

First, threats are becoming more sophisticated. In August, New Zealand’s intelligence was called in to investigate an attack that left the New Zealand stock exchange down for four days. The distributed denial-of-service attack was a sophisticated one, possibly with backing from state resources, the Financial Times quoted experts as saying.

Second, data from the first half of the year shows that the intensity of attacks is also increasing. Phishing attempts increased by 600 per cent worldwide, while attacks on banks increased close to 240 per cent.

And third, attacks often originate in other countries, requiring better coordination between countries and with telecommunication providers to track and identify criminals. Governments will need to “establish stricter detection and protection from the entry point so these attacks are eliminated even before they get into the country”, says Vladimir Yordanov, Senior Director of Solution Engineering at network security company Gigamon.

Uncover suspicious traffic

The best protection countries can develop is to become more resilient to such attacks. “Resilience is the capability to detect or even predict that something is happening and then ensure that the damage is contained,” Yordanov says.

Gigamon’s network visibility technology ensures countries know what is going on in their networks. It specialises in monitoring what moves through a network and detects suspicious activity. “We help countries ensure their defenses in cyber security operate at the maximum capacity and maximum efficiency, so that there are no gaps in their security.”

Its Visibility and Analytics Fabric can provide the government with a consistent and unified view of information as it travels across physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure. It also routes different kinds of traffic to the right tools, ensuring that the network does not become oversubscribed and open to attacks.

Philippines’ digital vision must be supported with technology that will uncover attackers before they can cause widespread damage.