MANILA, October 6, 2005
 (STAR) The Freeman - Amid eminent concerns of cyberspace assault, the Philippines is not fully equipped to combat cyber terrorism, experts said at the 2nd ASEAN Regional Forum Seminar on Cyber Terrorism yesterday.

Commissioner Angelo Timoteo Diaz de Rivera of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology said that of the 12 critical infrastructures that are potentially vulnerable to cyberterrorist attack, only two are prepared to combat such act- the banking and the telecommunications sectors.

He said the banking and the telecommunications sectors have been adopting communications and technology ever since that is why these are very much equipped and versed on Information and Communications Technology.

The 12 critical structures that need to be protected according to Rivera are: the banking and finance, telecommunications, health and health care, transportation, religious places of worship, infrastructures, government services, education centers, power and energy generation and distribution, retail trend, manufacturing, and agriculture and food.

However, Rivera said that so much more is needed to be done by other sectors to combat cyberterrorism. He said there is a need to increase the level of awareness among the structures on the matter and the need to put in place additional security policies including the need to look at medicated and educational ways to address the problem.

He said there is also a need to establish the computer security incident response team, which is only established in the Philippine National Police-now used to capture evidences in cyber crimes.

An important part of the seminar was the simulation exercise involving a cyber terrorism induced crisis situation. The simulation exercise drew attention to issues and concerns affecting the country's and the region's effectiveness in responding to cyber terrorist attacks.

Some of the recommendations made in the seminar is the directory of contact points on key cyber security areas which they hope to complete this month, the establishment of an ASEAN Regional Forum wide Network of computer emergency response teams, collaboration of digital forensics and the mutual and legal assistance in prosecuting cyber terrorist and hackers.

In his speech, Rivera mentioned of recent attacks incurred by cyber terrorists. He said that the recent I LOVEYOU virus and variants, for example, was estimated to have hit tens of millions of users and cost billions of dollars in damages. The February denial-of-service attacks against Yahoo, CNN, eBay, and other e-commerce web sites was estimated to have caused over a billion in losses. It also shook the confidence of business and individuals in e-commerce.

Diplomats, cyber security and terrorism experts and policy level officials from 25 nations participated in the three-day seminar on cyberterrorism that aims to openly discuss and share information and ideas on national policies on cyber terrorism and to encourage ARF participating countries to continuously cooperate and collaborate with each other in effectively addressing diverse cyber related threats and cyber terrorism.

The 1st ARF seminar on cyber terrorism was held in Jeju Island, Korea on November 13-15 last year that was co-chaired by the Republic of Korea and the Philippines. The forthcoming 2nd ARF seminar is a follow up forum that will take off from the discussions and recommendations put forward during the 1st seminar on cyberterrorism.

The ARF ministers during the 11th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta on July 2 last year highlighted the need for a greater regional cooperation to counter terrorism particularly in the area of law enforcement and intelligence sharing and to address the emotional and psychological reasons behind extremism and terrorism.

Cyber terrorism is the convergence of terrorism and cyberspace. It is generally understood to mean unlawful attacks and threats of attack against computers, networks, and the information stored therein when done to intimidate or coerce a government or its people in furtherance of political or social objectives. Further, to qualify as cyberterrorism, an attack should result in violence against persons or property, or at least cause enough harm to generate fear. Attacks that lead to death or bodily injury, explosions, plane crashes, water contamination, or severe economic loss would be examples. Serious attacks against critical infrastructures could be acts of cyberterrorism, depending on their impact. Attacks that disrupt nonessential services or that are mainly a costly nuisance would not. - Jasmin R. Uy

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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