Gov’t Cybersecurity Experts are quitting due to low pay

Over the past few weeks, various government agencies in the Philippines have experienced a tumultuous period concerning the security of their online data. Following a significant breach at PhilHealth that exposed more than 600GB of sensitive information, other organizations such as the Philippine Statistics Authority, DOST, and PNP have also fallen prey to hacking attempts.

Furthermore, hackers even defaced the website of the House of Representatives on a Sunday, although no data was pilfered during the incident. These incidents raise questions about the shortage of cybersecurity experts in the Philippines and how to prevent such security breaches.

A primary factor contributing to this shortage is the phenomenon known as “brain drain” among cybersecurity experts, primarily attributed to low compensation. DICT Assistant Secretary Renato Paraiso discussed this issue in an interview with ANC, highlighting the significant pay gap between government positions and those offered by local private firms. Paraiso explained that one reason for the government’s scarcity of cybersecurity experts is the higher salaries available in the private sector.

The government’s cybersecurity challenges extend beyond the scarcity of experts. Inadequate funding for essential infrastructure is also a concern. Apart from PhilHealth’s admission of failing to renew its antivirus subscription, Paraiso pointed out that the government lacks a robust system acting as a protective firewall against hacker attempts to infiltrate online services provided by government agencies.

In an incident earlier in September, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) fell victim to the Medusa ransomware, with hackers demanding a ransom of $300,000 (approximately Php17 million) for decrypting stolen data and removing it from the dark web.

According to the DICT’s investigation, the ransomware exploited exposed servers via the Remote Desktop Protocol.



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