Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. (File photo)

MANILA – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government is firm on running after perpetrators of the PHP167-million cyber heist at the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) last June.

In a Viber message to journalists on Friday, he said the Department of Finance (DOF), which oversees government financial institutions (GFIs), is closely working with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and law enforcement agencies “to keep GFIs and the banking system safe, secure, and reliable”.

“No stone will be left unturned as we investigate this incident and as we strengthen all components of our security systems. We will also see to it that the perpetrators are caught, tried, and punished to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Dominguez said UCPB officials are working with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other concerned agencies since mid-June 2020 to uncover the crime.

He said the bank is also “reviewing and strengthening its IT (information and technology) and security controls” since he has instructed the officials of the various GFIs “to keep their security systems up-to-date and sophisticated”.

He said UCPB officials have “assured us that their clients' funds were not affected by the incident”.

The bank “is a resilient and well-managed institution, registering a net income of PHP2.9 billion for the first half of 2020,” he said.

“We also assure the public that government financial institutions are consistently fortifying their cybersecurity systems. Client funds are safe and intact, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect our stakeholders,” he said.

Dominguez said state-owned financial institutions are “strictly complying” with the central bank’s circulars on information risks and security.

“GFIs are consistently updating the security of their databases, servers, devices, and software to respond to new threats and vulnerabilities,” he said.

These institutions “are also taking proactive measures to verify vendors and business partners, and limiting 3rd-party access to critical programs”.

“GFIs also have the mechanisms in place to monitor, detect, isolate, and eliminate incursions into their cyber systems,” he added. (PNA)