NGCP head bares cyber attacks on power grid, irks lawmakers
MANILA, Philippines – Did the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) just admit that the country’ power grid had been “attacked” by hackers?
Yes, a “hundred times already” in just the past few weeks, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) president and CEO Anthony Almeda initially told the Senate Committee on Energy on Monday.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, in the same senate hearing, said that there are indeed threats to the country’s power grid.
The committee, headed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, is looking into security issues raised over China’s alleged control of the NGCP.
Almeda, however, later clarified his statement when senators expressed surprise over his revelation.
“Can I reiterate that maybe the question that we should ask is, how fast do we respond?” Almeda said when opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros mentioned the during the hearing the reported cyberattacks on the Ukraine power grid in 2016.
Hontiveros said three countries—Russia, Iran, and China—had been suspected of launching the cyberattack.
“NGCP has been responding as fast. We have 22 calamities every year. We’ve proven ourselves that we have worked hard in having an electricity for the grid,” Almeda went on.
“And on the cyberattack, for the past few weeks that we’re here, we’ve been attacked a hundred times already so as we speak we don’t know if its’ from the outside, we’ve seen our net. That why this very crucial…” he added.
This apparently came as a surprise to senators present in the hearing.
“…and you’re just telling us that now that we are being attacked now?” Senator Richard Gordon asked.
“It’s a detection,” Almeda said, but Gordon rebuffed him, “No, no, you said attacked.”
“Yes, it’s a detection,” the NGCP official maintained.
And when Gordon insisted that he used the word “attacked,” Almeda apologized and insisted that the correct term was detection .
Whether the word was “attacked” or detection, Gatchalian said the government should have been informed about it.
“Dapat malaman namin ito because unang una, saan nangagaling? Pangalawa bakit? Bakit kayo lang nakaakalam nyan e,” Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, said.
Gatchalian eventually lost his cool when Almeda tried to reason out that other sectors like banks had also been targeted by hackers.
“We’re not talking about banks, we’re talking about the (power) grid of the country… And now you disclosed to us that there are a hundred attacks?” the senator asked again.
Responding to the senator, Almeda said, “As we speak now, there will be attempts.”
“But the government needs to know. That’s our point,” Gatchalian stressed.
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