Ethical hackers unite against cyber threats, create roadmap for PH cyber defense

Rootcon15 underscores their vital role in creating a cybersecure Digital Pilipinas

With cybercrime being one of the most pressing risks confronting businesses today, one of the most effective yet little-known ways to combat it is to hire a white hat or ethical hackers. This unique strategy was highlighted in ROOTCON15, the Philippines’ longest-running and most prestigious hacking conference, which recently hosted a webinar in which experts in the field and private-sector knowledge partners discussed various issues related to cybersecurity for the Philippines as seen through the eyes of white hat hackers.

The event was arranged by ROOTCON’s top executives in collaboration with Digital Pilipinas and World Fintech Festival-Philippines 2021 convenor GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications, Inc. (GMCI), Globe Telecom, and KPMG Philippines.

During the debate, DevNull, a goon at Rootcon, stated that the epidemic had “put cybersecurity specialists, IT professionals, and white hat hackers at the forefront of fighting digital threats to avert business interruptions.”

Amor Maclang, Digital Pilipinas Convenor and GMCI Co-founder, shared that as the Philippines is becoming an emerging player in FinTech in the ASEAN region, “the need to build the country’s cyber posture is becoming more important, and that cybersecurity experts together with the government and private sector will play an increasingly relevant role in bringing the Philippines to its rightful place as a digital leader. That is why Digital Pilipinas is enabling platforms like ROOTCON to address such emerging trends and challenges.” 

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Aj Dumanhug, Chief Information Security Officer of Secuna, shared that while white hat hackers have been utilized in building a secure cyber posture for different private and government entities, “according to one study there is a huge gap in the number of people who are skilled in handling cyber security…so organizations such as ROOTCON and some companies are a good platform to train the next generation of white hat hackers.”

Secuna is the Philippines’ biggest Cybersecurity Testing Platform, connecting startups and SMEs with highly-vetted worldwide cybersecurity specialists that identify and fix security weaknesses in their IT systems that malevolent hackers may exploit in the real world. It is a Digital Pilipinas enabler that assists public and private sector entities in securing their digital assets.

Mark Frogoso, Chief Information Security Officer of Mynt (Globe Fintech Innovations, Inc.)/GCASH), emphasized that there is a need to see the higher business goals when managing digital security threats and measuring the effectiveness of cybersecurity. He added that “there is a need to not only prepare the IT infrastructure but also train personnel within the house to use them and instill in them the cyber security mindset.”

Dax “Semprix” Labrador, Founder of ROOTCON, shared that ethical hackers should be encouraged to contribute to and fight the emerging digital threats, saying that “we need guidelines and full disclosure on how to treat hackers whose talents can be funneled in the fight against cybercrimes.”

When it comes to the use of white hat hackers, Eman0n, a goon at Rootcon and a former consultant for Comcast and Globe Telecom, says that e-commerce websites and applications like Lazada and Shopee have consulted ethical hackers to discover vulnerabilities, probable exploit spots and mitigation methods. Eman0n went on to say that “We have helped to improve the security posture of many businesses by supporting hacking workshops and hacker communities. ROOTCON has been a huge help in this project.”

On establishing a cybersecurity culture across all types of organizations, from government to private sector, Jallain Manrique, Partner of Lighthouse Lead and Head of Tech Consulting at KPMG Philippines, said that there is a need to create a culture “where everyone is conscious about cybersecurity, and to be able to identify the weakest link in the chain…(that) the tech part is just a component, but the processes, legislation, and people are equally imporant…”

ROOTCON goons OxM0N and Shipcode were also present during the virtual conference.

The press launch of ROOTCON 15 is one of the DIGITAL PILIPINAS – WORLD FINTECH FESTIVAL PHILIPPINES supported programs, which is a pioneering movement driven by policy and legislative advocacy, meaningful business connections, regulatory advocacy, mass adoption of nascent technologies, and ecosystem building. The collaboration will take the form of a series of co-created initiatives between Digital Pilipinas and the ROOTCON community, bringing together a whole-of-nation and whole-of-society approach to cybersecurity and cyber defense promotion and strengthening.

The 15th edition of ROOTCON, the Philippines’ largest hacking conference and information security gathering, will take place from October 12 to 15, 2021, bringing together professionals and pioneers in the field of cybersecurity in a hybrid interactive 4-day conference.

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