Balancing cybersecurity and transparency

Exploring the crucial yet controversial nature of confidential funds in fortifying a nation's cybersecurity framework while navigating the complexities of accountability and corruption prevention

At a glance

  • Confidential funds are crucial in facilitating secret operations necessary for national security, such as intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism. However, they spark debate due to concerns over possible misuse, corruption, and lack of transparency and accountability in how these funds are spent.

  • Some view the denial of confidential funds, especially to departments like DICT, as a risk to national cybersecurity, potentially leaving the nation's digital infrastructure vulnerable to cyber-attacks, espionage, and data breaches and hindering technological development.

  • There are substantial challenges in the procurement and bidding process for cybersecurity tools and services, such as managing security risks, ensuring cost-effectiveness, maintaining speed to adapt to evolving threats, and safeguarding confidential information about capabilities and operations.

  • Ensuring national security and mitigating risks associated with the disclosure of sensitive tools and operations through public procurement processes and maintaining the confidentiality of non-commercially available solutions is vital. The use of confidential funds can protect the nation from potential cyber-terrorist attacks and safeguard against threats from foreign adversaries.

  • The allocation and utilization of confidential funds must be subject to rigorous oversight and accountability to prevent misuse and corruption. Clear guidelines on when and how these funds are utilized and reporting to appropriate oversight entities are essential to maintaining a balance between cybersecurity and preserving transparency and accountability.

Confidential funds are lump sums of money allocated to government agencies for activities that need to be kept secret. These activities include intelligence gathering, counter-terrorism operations, and other sensitive matters.

There is much controversy surrounding the use of confidential funds in government agencies. Some people argue they are necessary to protect national security and public safety. Others say that they are a breeding ground for corruption and abuse.



As a technology editor and a cyber security analyst, here's my take on the issue:

The allocation of confidential funds to government agencies, particularly the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), underpins a critical debate on national security and transparency. The denial of such funds to DICT is argued to potentially jeopardize a country's cybersecurity framework, risking national security, economic stability, and the protection of sensitive data. 


With the surge in digital advancements, a secure and reliable cyberinfrastructure is needed. Withholding confidential funds could restrain the DICT from optimally safeguarding the nation's cyber domain, preventing the preemptive identification of threats, and ensuring a fortified defense against cyber-attacks, espionage, and data breaches. Furthermore, it may hamper technological development and hinder the establishment of a resilient digital ecosystem vital in navigating the complexities of the modern, interconnected world. Consequently, it becomes imperative to explore a balanced narrative that acknowledges the crucial role of such funds while maintaining a vigilant eye on transparency and accountability in their utilization.

Here are some reasons why allocating funds for confidential use of the DICT is a good idea. 

Security risks: Sensitive cybersecurity tools can exploit vulnerabilities in networks and systems, ensuring that they are only procured from trusted vendors is essential. The usual bidding process may not adequately assess the security risks associated with each bidder.

Cost: Sensitive cybersecurity tools can be expensive, so getting the best value for money is essential. However, the usual procurement and bidding process may not always result in the most cost-effective solution. For example, the winning bidder may be the one that offers the lowest price, but their product may not be the best quality or may not meet all of the organization's needs.

Speed: Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and DICT needs to acquire new cybersecurity tools quickly. The present procurement process is slow, which could leave the organization vulnerable to attack. Remember, PhilHealth? The agency failed to update the license of its antivirus, blaming the complex procurement process for its failure to get a new license, thus making the system vulnerable to the latest attacks.

Confidentiality: The usual procurement and bidding process requires the DICT to post publicly the equipment and services the agency needs to acquire. These equipment and services may be used to collect or analyze intelligence or to conduct covert operations by the DICT with other attached agencies. Disclosing information about these tools, equipment, and services could reveal sensitive information about the country's intelligence capabilities or operations.

To protect national security or public safety. Sensitive tools, equipment, and solutions may be used to protect the country from foreign adversaries or to prevent cyber-terrorist attacks. Disclosing information about these via the regular procurement process could compromise their effectiveness and put the country at risk.

In addition to these reasons, a confidential fund may also be needed to acquire sensitive tools, equipment, and solutions that are not yet commercially available. The DICT may need to work with contractors to develop these tools, equipment, and solutions, and it may need to keep the details of these contracts confidential.

While I support allocating confidential funds to DICT, using confidential funds must be subject to strict oversight and accountability mechanisms. To avoid misuse, the DICT must have a clear and justifiable reason for using confidential funds, and the use of these funds must be reported to the appropriate government oversight groups.