Onel de Guzman is probably the most famous Filipino cybercriminal in the world. In May 2000, he launched the infamous “I Love You” virus via an email, and this spread to millions of computers around the world. The virus became one of the most destructive at that time, costing $5.5 billion in damages.
Today, cybercrime is everywhere, from identity theft to cybersex trade. Recently, the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law that aims to penalize people who are involved in cybercrimes. The law is currently being reviewed due to nationwide protests and is now under temporary restraining order handed by the Supreme Court.
At the time Onel de Guzman was arrested, he was immediately released because no laws were enforced yet in the Philippines involving cybercrimes.
Today, there is a lot to be feared about illegal activities online. Right now, the greatest fear of netizens is identity and personal information theft. According to the security software company Norton’s 2011 annual report, cybercrimes cost a a staggering $110 billion and one of the main targets are credit cards. Hackers steal credit card information from online users and sell them to buyers, which in turn use the cards for online purchases.
Recently, at the 10th Philippine Youth Congress on Information Technology (Y4IT) held at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Rene Jaspe, founder and chief information security officer of Sinag Solutions, shed light on some issues about online security in front of Information Technology students.
The 10th Y4IT serves as a venue for IT students around the country to get valuable information about technology through local and international experts.
DO NOT BE A VICTIM
Today, people are doing everything online, from research to shopping to banking, making the internet a hot bed of the most creative modern crimes.
“There is cyber threat. And people should watch out. Everyone is vulnerable online,” says Jaspe, who worked for13 years with the US Federal Government Contractor servicing the US Defense and Intelligence Agencies. He lists down the basic tips on how not to fall victim to cybercrimes which the younger generation is very much vulnerable to.
• DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS. Jaspe says people should adopt what they don’t do offline to their online activities. For example, talking to strangers. Minors fall victim to criminals online because they are too friendly when they are online.
“If you don’t do offline, don’t do it online. You are trained not to talk to strangers so you should translate that same mindset when you are online. Sometimes people break this. They don’t talk to strangers in real life but when they’re online, they’re very friendly,” Jaspe says.
• BE SURE YOU ARE LOCKED – In order to prevent theft of personal information, make sure the internet browser is secure. There is such a thing as SSL or Secure Sockets Layer, the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. SSL is an industry standard and is used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers. This is the padlock icon that usually located at the address bar of the browser. If the padlock is locked, then the web browsing is safe.
• DO NOT PUT EVERYTHING ON THE INTERNET – Teenagers are guilty of this. Some teenagers would post their private phone numbers online. This is a big no-no. Everybody who has a social media account should know that putting every personal piece of information online is a disaster waiting to happen. Do not post schedules. Do not post identification cards. Do not post anything personal.
“I know that it is very tempting to include more details in social media. But we have a field called social engineering, with this you get a lot of information from the things that you post online. Just be careful and do not put everything on the internet,” Jaspe says.
• USE ONE CREDIT CARD – For online shopping, users should use only one credit card. Online shoppers should only use one credit card, preferably the one with the lowest credit limit. So, if ever the credit card or an online shop where the credit card has been used is hacked, only one credit card information is stolen.
“If you have to create online accounts, use one credit card online. Have a credit card that is specifically used for online purchases only. If you use multiple credit cards online, there is a probability that all of your accounts will be stolen,” he shares.
YOUNG IT PROFESSIONALS NEEDED
In the Philippines, cybercrime is not as rampant as in other countries. Hacking and defacing websites are what usually local cybercriminals do. But this doesn’t mean that netizens should not prepare.
“Dito simpleng hacking lang. Usually website are defaced kasi wala pa tayong critical infrastructure online. Pero we are maturing and there is a rise in online financial transactions like online banking. We are becoming mature. A lot of Filipinos are buying in online markets,” Jaspe says.
Cybercrime in the Philippines is on the rise. Currently, there are 67 Filipino licensed online security professionals, too small for the more than 30 million internet users in the Philippines. This is why Jaspe encourages young IT professionals to go into online security.
“We are trying to encourage young people to enter this field. Cybercrime in the Philippines will get worse. They do it where the money is. Right now, where is the money? It’s not in Europe, it’s not in the US but in Asia. In Asia, the Philippines is second in the growing Asian economy. There’s money here. And where there’s money, cybercrime will follow,” Jaspe ends.
By ANGELO G. GARCIA