PLDT and Smart Communications have pledged to continue their close collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enhance the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure and protect it from cyberattacks, especially those that are suspected to be sponsored by foreign actors.
The commitment was reaffirmed during the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) Castle Siege 2 cybersecurity exercise, which was attended by representatives from other branches of the military, the AFP Cyber Group, national agencies, and academic institutions. The exercise aimed to test the readiness and resilience of the participants in responding to various cyber threats and scenarios.
PLDT and Smart Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan urged the cybersecurity stakeholders to establish and improve communication lines, share threat intelligence and best practices, and conduct joint simulation exercises. “The quality of attacks has leveled up in sophistication,” he said. “We need to come together in order to protect our shared cyberspace together.”
Pangilinan cited the example of cyber warfare in the conflict in Ukraine, where hackers launched a series of cyberattacks against the government and critical infrastructure of the former Soviet state before and during the invasion by Russia. A coordinated global effort led by the European Union (EU), the United States (US), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) helped neutralize the threats, protect Ukraine’s essential infrastructure, and bolster its cyber defenses.
The Philippines is also facing daily cyberattacks from various sources. In the first half of the year, PLDT and Smart thwarted more than 5.5 billion cyberattacks and attempts to breach their digital network.
As hackers develop more advanced tools, Pangilinan stressed the importance of upskilling cyber warriors. “Plans and strategies work best if we have the right teams and the right personnel to back these up. We need to bolster the ranks of our cyber warriors,” he said.
The PLDT group has been working closely with the Air Force in cybersecurity skills development. PLDT and Smart’s Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) previously trained Air Force personnel in the latest cybersecurity strategies.
The PLDT group is also building a cybersecurity operations center at the Villamor Air Force Base in Pasay City. The first MVP Cybersecurity Center for Excellence aims to boost the military’s cyber defense capabilities as part of the AFP modernization.
PLDT and Smart’s programs to beef up their partners’ digital infrastructure highlight the use of technology to empower and build bridges of collaboration across sectors to keep the country safe from cyberattacks. These initiatives highlight the group’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG No. 9 on Industries, Innovation, and Infrastructure.