DND urges military to beef up cybersecurity

By Priam Nepomuceno

April 4, 2019, 12:17 pm

MANILA -- The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to beef up its cyber and network security, in the wake of reports claiming that the website of the training school of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, one of the Philippine Army’s (PA) elite units, was hacked last year.

"We are taking this seriously and are advising the AFP and our other bureaus to strengthen their cyber and network security," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Information on 20,000 soldiers was reportedly stolen in the hacking incident.

As this developed, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said investigations on the alleged hacking incident revealed that the AFP Network remains secure.

"Initial investigation on the alleged hacking incident that transpired on 01 April 2019 indicates that the AFP Network (AFPNET) is unaffected and remains secure as it is a closed network inaccessible from the internet," Detoyato said.

The AFP official noted that suspected files that were forcibly accessed came from third party servers that are already being vacated.

"These are considered loose ends that have already been migrated to the AFPNET," he said, noting that the files do not contain highly-classified information but data that are already available at the Scout Ranger Training School registry books and in the internet.

"Operational data are not compromised because of this incident. The AFP already addressed the alleged hacking incident through the AFP Computer Emergency Response Team under the AFP Cyber Group. Nevertheless, our cybersecurity systems are constantly being reviewed and assessed of its critical vulnerabilities and augmented further with more stringent security measures,” Detoyato said.

Before this alleged hacking incident, he said, the Philippine Navy has already completed a critical review of its cybersecurity.

The Philippine Army, Air Force and the general headquarters will follow suit in conducting the security assessment.

Meanwhile, Philippine Army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, earlier said the data extracted from the exposed dump files of an old database was being migrated from a third party Internet service provider to the Army network in December 2018.

"These files were already addressed as early as January 1, 2019 but was only leaked recently to make it appear that the hacker was able to commemorate their yearly mischief on April 1st. Rest assured that all other data in our network is secured and that further security assessments are being done to prevent a repeat of this incident," he said. (PNA)