Under the miniscule prism

Cybercrime Laws in the Philippines?

  • Is there any?

If you are looking for one, then there is. I mentioned there’s one, right? You read it correct. A solitary law that pertains to the internet and electronic communications called as Republic Act (RA) 8792, known as the “Electronic Commerce Act” or “E-Commerce Act” which was signed into Law on June 2000 after the “I Love You” worm proliferated and there was no such law to penalize against such perpetuation. Hold on a sec, its 2011! I am no lawyer and I am no legislator but I can read through fine prints. EULA anyone? Don’t get me wrong here, this article is not intended for mockery of the present law lain down.

Honestly, the ground-laying for electronic or computer related laws should have started during the time of DOS where an Adamson University College student named JonJon Gumba created the first Filipino virus called Possessed which infected hundreds of IBM systems worldwide in its first months. Well, the internet was not that common back then.

  • But come on!

If technology advances then the laws should also move forward in stride against threats whether electronic or not. Are we not on the reactive side here? Wait for something to blow up in your face than expect it coming? Oh well.

Let me digress a little here. Recently, I went through several government institutions for some of those badly needed government issued IDs. One thing really good though when you are in public nobody knows who you are and what you do. In one instance while waiting for several hours, I finally reached a validation window only to be greeted: “Sorry sir, system hanged. Please wait while I restart?” Sure thing, lucky me! Looking over the counter I saw the POST counting and what do I see? Checking NVRAM 512MB, Intel Celeron®, Phoenix-Award BIOS 2008 ~ BLEEP! Windows XP was now booting up. Of course the curious side of me should kick in wondering what Service Pack can this be? Disappointingly, it’s not running SP3! Hey, hey, Jay! How would you know? Boot-up screen, duh!

The employee now logs-in. Let’s see, several Start-up errors and an AV exclaiming, “System has not been updated for 3 days…” which he all closes while tapping the mouse several times over the table. Oh wait, what do we have on the desktop? Shortcuts to several offline games. Egad, 20 minutes or so to get everything back and running again. An Intel Atom® N550 Netbook could have gone faster with Windows 7® on it.

  • Adding insult to injury?

For the Filipino readers, have you heard that the Philippines is now the Call Center Capital of the World? This industry is now the second dollar income generator for our country. If you’re a Call Center Agent or employee, have you checked your pay-slips closely? Move down to Taxable Income please. How many times are you being taxed? Semi-monthly, mostly. Well, that’s where some of your money gets invested on. A technology that’s at a bargain price, as it goes “sold to the lowest bidder!”. Personally, surplus systems could have been better!

If you can read through an excerpt of the Country Report on Cybercrime in the Philippines which was done in 2008, Gilbert C. Sosa has done a good analysis of the true situation and the issues against cybercrime. His recommendations has reached no further action to date. It’s disturbing to see the inadequacy of the government against cyber-threats. Are we waiting for another virus, another defaced website or a new Denial-of-Service attack? Some Philippine Government sites has fallen victim from several attacks done by Philker Hackers. Oddly, these government agencies haven’t learned anything from the experience. It was a simple attack of a website defacing. Now how about if it’s a real international or local threat with malicious intents to steal data? Simple answer: They’re utterly defenseless.

Again, I’m not grinding an axe. Oftentimes, looking at the current situation will help us face why we are nowhere near the peak against other Asian countries. A white-collared job can afford to buy a netbook at a reasonable price. Shouldn’t it follow that the government should have a superior system?

  • Deal with it.

Let’s accept it Juan, you come at the least priority. they’ll make you feel that you’re special but do you really pay attention? So long as you get what you want, it’s all right. Look again. Have you thought how things have changed recently? Even a 5-year-old knows the internet now. You may even tried creating an account under your kid’s name over at Facebook! Then consider such threats now to that account. You may not have heard of cyber-crimes yet. But face it. Do you know how exposed you and your children are to the crimes from cyber-space? But you aren’t protected by your own local laws.

  • Cyber-crime, it’s all in the mind!

Going around the malls here has made me wonder how popular social networking sites were for Filipinos. Almost everyone now has a gadget or device that can connect to the internet. Currently there are more than 20 million Filipinos who would have an account in blogs and social networking sites like Friendster, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. But much to my dismay if you would ask them if they know what cyber-bullying is or trolling, very few would know what you’re talking about. Someone even replied, “Spam? Yah, its something you eat right?”. Most would not even know how to change Privacy settings in their accounts. Rarely, would you find that there’s someone that knows what a Phishing site is.

In the absence of any local internet laws to prevent cyber-crime from proliferating in the Philippines, it has now become a prime target to Phishing, Pay-per-install and Pay-per-click scams. Likewise, other illegal activities such as online pornography, child prostitution and cybersex sites are now being hosted in Philippine Domains. Who can forget the most celebrated online upload of the Hayden-Halili scandal?

  • Be in control.

Until the Philippine government finds out which way is North, it’s up to you how you can protect yourself against online threats.

1. Create a Strong Password: It’s not your birthdate, it’s not your cellphone number and most specially not your anniversary. To create a strong password you need to be creative and use the special characters and several combination of CAPS and numbers. Similar to: !L0v3Y%u. If you want to test your password first before you use it Microsoft provides a Strong Password Checker:https://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/password-checker.aspx

2. Think before you click. No matter how appealing an advertisement is of having you to earn $$$, steer away from it. Think hard about what you’re going into. No one will pay you a huge amount in dollars just for clicking a link. Now what’s a link? It looks like this: HERE or CLICK ME! Usually click-able links will take you to a site which opens to a new window or another tab. Check the site’s internet address and if it looks doubtful then close it or consider reporting it before you leave. Internet Explorer 8 and 9 has a Safety feature called “Smart Screen Filter” that protects you against phishing sites. But its only as good against the sites it knows that has been reported and tagged as unsafe.

For the FAQ on Smart Screen Filter, start >>HERE<<Don’t worry its safe!

3. Never install unknown software: if you don’t need it why install it? Trusted software will have relevant information of the company who developed it. But this is not enough. Check online for the complete description of what you are installing. Malware and Rougeware has found its way of making you think that it’s for real.

4. Buy legitimate software. Counterfeit software will always put you and your privacy at risk including those that you share it with. Fake software may carry embedded codes that can capture and send information to those that created or modified it for their own gain.

5. Protect your privacy. Remember to always set personal identifiable information and your own photos private. It may look cool that you want to flaunt your bragging rights but it also exposes information for how they can contact you and gain more background. Photos can be grabbed and uploaded to fraudulent sites. You wouldn’t want to find out one day that you’re an escort service or instant porn-star!

6. Protect your online identity. Your virtual integrity is as good as your true reputation. Read on:http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/reputation.aspx

7. Install an Anti-Malware program and keep it updated. This should go without explaining. Its simple really. If you’re an internet junkie be prepared for what’s out there. For a list of Anti-Malware programs here is one for you: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/antivirus-partners/windows-7.aspx. If you are not using Windows 7® better think into buying a new PC compatible for it.

8. Keep your Firewall turned on. Similar to a real-life firewall, a software firewall keeps your network data in check. More of it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firewall_(computing)

9. Avoid online spam, scams and solicitations. It’s old news yet often ignored. A piece of advice: No one wins millions of dollars overnight. If you still don’t get it: How to recognize phishing email messages, links, or phone calls.

10. Keep your system up-to-date. Contrary to the stereotypical concept of updates saying that its interrupting, annoying, error-prone, etc., etc. All updates to system and software components protects you against known or exploited vulnerabilities. Take for example Conficker which already infected thousands of Windows systems and waited dormant until its triggered time.

  • I therefore conclude…

The Philippine government in its current stature is helpless against all forms of Cyber-crime. They lack the manpower, systems and in-depth technical skill. Even though the bill for Cyber-crime Prevention Act of 2011 has been signed it will still take several years before it becomes a law, and then an adequacy for cyber-crime prevention and punishment must be reached. Another 20 years anyone? Why that long? Just do the math.


8 responses

  1. You have a good point in stating about how our Cyber-Crime laws are way obsolete. including the computer systems used in our government. Remember the past National election where we started electronic voting? Handling protests was way more complicated since IT guys need to educate our legislators before they can go on with the investigation. But anyway, kudos to you for providing us the 10 points to protect each and everyone of us, and that’s just so little we can do with the current situation in place.

    Lucky us though that our government not going on a move banning free torrent sites and other download sites like Malaysia do. Malaysia was recently attacked by group of hackers because of that. And if that happens to our country, we can do nothing but watch and sit. Even the attack was just a website defacing, it sends a signal to every government that anything even with security in place can be hacked.

    I wonder if our country can still catch up with how fast technology is moving. We are distracted with too much crime and politics that we forget to upgrade our technology.
    We have the skills and talent, what we just need is support and funding from the government including prioritization for the budget…

    Thanks for the information on your article… It kinda inspire me rather than the opposite..

    July 9, 2011 at 4:30 AM

  2. Your damn right! I don’t know if people in the senate are looking into this and look at what just happened to facebook users who died because of being deeply into it. I really think that we have thousands of laws and yet they are not strictly implemented. People are not even well informed about this laws.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:22 AM

  3. The Government MUST READ this article… this is a bag of truth! Almost all government agencies have their own websites right now but the question is… ARE THESE PEOPLE AWARE of such things that can compromise their security? Maybe the IT dept. knew. How about the users who use these everyday? or should I say, how about the LAWMAKERS? I think, one of the reasons why there is no strong law against cybercrime is because the people who has make such law don’t know anything about hacking, viruses or even phishing… The fact here is : HOW CAN YOU MAKE A LAW IF YOU DON’T HAVE A SINGLE IDEA about it?

    September 27, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    • It’s sad but true. In addition, would our older legislators admit to the fact the era they belonged to was a pre-historic age when computers were made of Vacuum Tubes rather than Silicon Chips, and Digital Media was nothing but a yolk of thought? The age today and the next degree of our generation will definitely have a wider array of technology and accessibility to it. As knowledge and technology moves forward with everyday life and as our country enjoys both the convenience and luxury of advances in technology, there is no exisiting law that will protect the integrity and privacy of our citizens.

      September 27, 2011 at 3:12 PM

  4. maricel

    tenx for this info,,,nadadagdagan ang info ko about cybercrime,,,matatapos ko na dn ang thesis ko,,tenx

    February 17, 2012 at 10:47 PM

  5. jhon eduard

    I had a few experienced related to this topic.

    the congress should talk about this and pass the Act against cyber crime.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM

  6. silver account

    Unlike bullying in the school yard, a cyberbully might steal a classmate’s online name and spread lies or write hateful comments about them. Cyberbullies often post damaging information on blogs or websites and even secretly record conversations (via cell phone) and then playing back the recording to the person being talked about. There are bullying stories all over the internet even one where stalking-type emails were sent to a 16-year old who ended up committing suicide.

    October 4, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s