Hontiveros warns of increased Chinese cyberespionage ahead of 2022 polls

Published July 22, 2021, 3:00 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday expressed certainty that China will carry out cyberespionage activities in the Philippines ahead of the country’s May 2022 elections.

Hontiveros said she believes that a number of Philippine government “actors” are already part or are the target of these espionage activities.

“China has the capacity for cyberespionage activities…it has been doing this to several countries,” Hontiveros said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

“And based on reports, she had already influenced earlier elections, not just here in the Philippines but even in other countries where they have economic interests,” the senator said.

That is why, she said, the Departments of Information and Communications Technology and the National Defense should look into the various reports detailing cybersecurity threats posed by China, especially the report coming from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity firm founded in 1997, have earlier uncovered a rare, wide-scale advanced persistent threat (APT) campaign against users in Southeast Asia, particularly in Myanmar and the Philippines.

“In fact, in the latest Kaspersky’s report, these Chnese cyberespionage cafes are aimed at particular countries in Asia and Africa,” the senator said.

In 2016, a cybersecurity firm based in Finland, F-Secure, had also said it was able to trace to China a malware used to spy on the Philippine government and other parties that are related to the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Hontiveros said she is not at all surprised at these developments considering that China has already captured some major markets.

“We’ve heard of economic takeovers by China in some African countries and in other Asian countries besides the Philippines,” she said.

Citing the report, the senator said both the DND and the DICT should strengthen the country’s cyber-defense framework considering China’s interests in the West Philippine Sea.

“China has no respect for our sovereignty so we in the Philippines must be vigilant. Let’s help make sure that the interests and welfare of the Philippines are upheld,” she earlier stressed.