By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is advising the public to be extra careful in doing things online and reinforce their vulnerabilities against possible cyber attacks.
PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde said that with the advent of technology, some have seen it as a means to earn money — even in illegitimate ways, such as hacking and scamming.
“This is the crime trend that we have seen in the recent times. Due to the involvement of millions of Filipinos in social media, some have seen it as very profitable and they [suspects] are really hard to trace and find,” Albayalde said.
On Friday, the management of Facebook, among the biggest social media companies in the world, announced that unidentified hackers stole digital login codes of nearly 50 million users around the globe.
This means that the hackers could take over the compromised accounts and steal their private information.
This was after Facebook users complained that they were logged out of their accounts but according to the Facebook management, they intentionally logged out the affected users to prevent the hackers from taking over their accounts.
Chief Supt. Marni Marcos Jr., head of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), issued some directives on how to secure an individual’s social media accounts.
He said social media accounts should be kept private and users have to utilize a unique password in every online account they manage.
He added that a user should initiate a background check of an unknown person trying to connect with him/her.
“This can be done by knowing how long the account [has been] existing, how many friends it has, and its regular online activities,” Marcos said.
When a social media account is newly created and it has few connections or friends, be cautious if it wants to connect with your account, and doubtful if it starts asking your personal information, Marcos explained.
He also advised the social media users to protect their computer systems against intruders by installing anti-virus programs and by activating their firewall. More tips can be seen at the PNP-ACG website: www.pnpacg.gov.ph and PNP official Facebook account.
Trolls, illegal transactions
Albayalde also said social media users have to be extra careful since the Internet is also being utilized by online trolls and criminals involved in illegal transactions online.
“It is a really big challenge for the PNP-ACG because sometimes people are making fake accounts to troll. Aside from scams, it could lead to cyberbullying,” he said.
Online trolls who attack and bully other persons could face criminal charges punishable under the Anti-Cybercrime Act, the chief PNP noted.
Albayalde also said the PNP is monitoring various illegal transactions online, including exchange and purchase of illegal drugs, guns and ammunition, and explosives among others.
“There are several occasions that we have identified and arrested criminals because of social media. So it’s a good way also that we are using it as an advantage,” he said.
He said more developments and upgrading of the PNP-ACG’s capabilities must be done since it has only been in the field for about five years.