PLDT Enterprise, the B2B arm of the country’s largest fully integrated telecommunications provider PLDT, highlighted the significance of cybersecurity readiness amid the dramatic rise of cyberattacks to businesses over the past year.

During the Philippine leg of the 2022 Fortinet Accelerate Asia Tour, PLDT Enterprise AVP and Head of Cybersecurity Business Consulting Alexis Bernardino shared that “in terms of the current cyber security landscape, it is no longer a question of ‘if’ or ‘how’ companies will be breached or attacked but it is a matter of ‘when.’”

According to survey results from cybersecurity firm Sophos last year, 69% of the respondents, composed of businesses in the country, experienced a ransomware attack, or those cyberattacks that encrypt systems in exchange for a ransom.

This was higher compared to the results of the same survey conducted in 2020 where 42% of Philippine firms surveyed reported ransomware incidents.

Likewise, the average ransomware payment made by companies in the country was found to be about $1.6 million last year which was more than double the global average of $812,000. The country’s average in 2020 was already at $820,000.

It also cost Philippine organizations an average of $1.34 million to recover from the attack, ranging from downtime, people time, device cost, and network cost, to lost opportunity, among others.

“Enterprises should operate on an “ASSUMED BREACH MODE”. Anticipate that you have been breached already. That should be the operating mode so that you would always stay vigilant that something might happen and you might be vulnerable to any cyberattack. It is also important to fortify your predictive and responsive capabilities and approach,” Bernardino said.

The PLDT Enterprise executive also added that the partnership between public and private companies is critical to ensuring a safer Philippine cyberspace.

“There should be strong legislation pertaining to cybersecurity so that we can establish a framework and roadmap for the Philippines. The private sector can come in to share their best practices, threat intelligence, and cybersecurity expertise to help the government, which is leading the pack to create a safer and secured Philippine Cyberspace,” he noted.

Moreover, Bernardino raised the issue of the scarcity of cybersecurity talents in the country. He mentioned that there are different approaches to addressing this but the most important consideration is to employ cybersecurity professionals who have “the right mindset, the right attitude and should be trainable in cybersecurity.”

Fortinet Accelerate Asia 2022 Tour is a cybersecurity conference for Fortinet partners and customers, aiming to deliver inspiring and innovative plenary sessions to broaden the delegates’ perspective, allow them to engage their thoughts, and help them improve their security senses.

The tour’s Philippines edition delivers unique insights from Fortinet and industry experts who share their knowledge on the technology trends that will shape the future of cybersecurity.

It features informative talks and breakout sessions, discussing today’s most challenging cybersecurity while providing a fun, comprehensive, and focused event where delegates can network with other peers and experts in the industry.

Bernardino joined other executives from different companies during the event’s customer panel discussion, which was graced by Fortinet Asia Vice President of Marketing and Communications Rashish Pandey, Maynilad Water Services Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Dr. Francisco Castillo, and Experts Prime IT Services President Joseph Mark R. Aquino.

Each speaker shared insights on how to navigate through various cybersecurity challenges organizations face today.

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