DICT laments 2024 budget cut: More funds needed for cybersecurity
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Tuesday said that with the increasing risks in the country’s cybersecurity, the department needs a higher budget to address it.
According to DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy, their budget for cybersecurity was cut from P600 million for 2023 to P300 million for 2024.
Uy said that while the risks in cybersecurity escalate, fewer people are working in the department due to budget cuts.
“Paliit po nang paliit ang mga team natin dahil pakaunti nang pakaunti ang budget natin sa cybersecurity,” the secretary said in an interview in Radyo 630.
(Our team is getting smaller because the budget for cybersecurity is decreasing.)
Uy mentioned that there are only around 24 personnel in the department that specialize in cybersecurity — something the department wants to increase but is currently challenged doing so.
“Pero malaki po ang mga issues na ‘yan. Katulad po ng sweldo po – dahil ang cybersecurity experts po, ang sweldo niyan, average sa private sector ay P200,000 a month,” Uy said, citing that the department can only afford a P50,000 monthly salary for cybersecurity experts.
(These are big issues. Like with the salary — a cybersecurity expert’s monthly salary in the private sector averages at P200,000.)
“Most likely, mga patriotic na willing mag-sacrifice ng ilang taon nang maliit ang kita upang makatulong lang po sa ating bansa,” he added pertaining to the current personnel on the team.
(Most likely, our current personnel are the patriotic ones who are willing to sacrifice a few years of having a smaller salary for the betterment of the country.)
Uy said that they only want to retain their P600 million annual budget for cybersecurity.
“Ang inire-request lang po namin ay maibalik ‘yung at least P600 million na hiningi namin last year, na ‘wag na po sanang kaltasan,” he said.
(We are just requesting to have at least a P600 million annual budget like last year; no more deductions.)
Uy shared that the DICT also requested P300 million confidential funds.
“Kailangan na kailangan po, katulad nito, sa hacking na ito, sa ransomware. Mahirap makakuha ng intel o ng data kung wala po tayong confidential funds na gagamitin upang mahanap itong mga sources at matukoy to what extent itong mga data breach na ito po,” he stressed when asked if the department needs confidential funds.
(We really need it, just like this hacking incident in ransomware. It is hard to obtain intel or data if we do not have confidential funds to use to locate sources and identify the extent of data breach.)
The department is hopeful that their request will be granted as legislators understand the current threat in national cybersecurity, according to Uy.
“May mga mambabatas naman po tayo na sympathetic po sa atin dahil nakikita po nila na palaki nang palaki ang problema ng cybercrime, cyber threat sa ating bansa. Parami nang parami po ‘yung mga insidente na ganito at kailangan po natin ng kaukulang panlaban sa kanila,” he noted.
(There are legislators who are sympathetic to our plight as they witness the escalating problem of cybercrime and cyber threats in our country. Incidents like these are increasing and we need the right tools to counter it.)
The secretary further clarified that the said confidential fund is different from the P600 million for cybersecurity.
“Hiwalay po ‘yung confidential [fund], dahil ‘yung P600 [million] po, ‘yan po ‘yung for operations. Pag-set up ng network operation center, cybersecurity center, pagbili ng mga appliances, mga software, mga intrusion detection system, analytical tool, at sa mga intelligence services,” Uy explained.
(The confidential fund is different. The P600 million will be used for operations, setting up network operation centers, cybersecurity centers, buying of appliances, software, intrusion detection systems, analytical tools, and intelligence services.)
“’Yung confidential funds po ay more for intel operations. Na kung may nakita tayong nagpo-post sa dark web na mga compromised data daw, kailangang imbestigahan po natin kung totoo ba itong mga compromised data na ito o fake. At kung totoo man, paano nila nakuha ito? Sinu-sino ang mga nag-upload niyan, mga players nyan? More on that po, bayad sa mga informants at sa mga intel gathering,” he continued.
(The confidential funds will be more on intel operations. When we see people posting alleged compromised data on the dark web, we need to investigate if these are true or not. If they were true, how were the data obtained? Who uploaded it? It will be more on that, payments for informants and intel gathering.)