Thursday, June 20, 2024

USAID holds connectivity, cybersecurity confab in Visayas region

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Philippine Cable and Telecommunications Association, Inc. (PCTA), APNIC, and 200 cable TV operators, internet service providers, and local government units (LGUs) in the Visayas region gathered for the “Connectivity and Cybersecurity Conference” on October 17-19 at Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City.

John Garrity, chief of party of USAID’s BEACON project

In commemoration of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the three-day event featured sessions on cybersecurity best practices, trainings and certification tracks along with segments on ICT development and gender equality and social inclusion in ICT, in parallel with PCTA’s Executive Cable Conference for its Visayas region members.

USAID, through its Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) project, is collaborating with PCTA to improve cybersecurity capabilities, increase the adoption of digital services, and identify vulnerabilities to develop the security posture of cable TV operators and Internet service providers, LGUs, and organizations in the region.

Particularly, BEACON and PCTA are promoting the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, a framework that consists of standards, guidelines, and practices to promote the protection of critical infrastructure.

“USAID recognizes the significant economic and social benefits that come with an open, secure, and reliable Internet. As cyber threats become more prevalent, now more than ever we need to increase cyber awareness and improve cybersecurity protection,” said John Garrity, chief of party of USAID’s BEACON project.

“As Internet service providers, it is crucial that our cable TV operators are updated and aware of the latest cybersecurity measures to be able to provide secure internet services for the Filipino people.”

PCTA is the umbrella organization of more than 300 cable television operators in the Philippines who serve about 75 percent of the total cable TV subscribers in the country. Out of this number, about 200 cable operators offer internet service to households, schools, and businesses.

Its members include the biggest cable operators as well as the medium and small cable operators who have succeeded in bringing up-to-date programs, information, and technology even to the farthest islands in the country.

“The PCTA is grateful to have found a partner in USAID’s BEACON project to help in our journey to develop a mature cybersecurity posture for our members in various stages of their Fixed Line Service Provider lifecycle. The Association wants to push for this aggressively and we are hopeful this event will help us convey how serious a matter this is for us,” said Joel Dabao, vice president for Visayas and chairman for the technical and industry development committee at PCTA.

“This will be a great first step for us by adopting the appropriate cybersecurity standards for both our operations’ safety and for our subscribers’ safety.”

USAID, through its BEACON project, is working with the public and private sectors to augment the country’s ICT infrastructure ecosystem, improve digital government services, and establish a robust cybersecurity posture for the country to accelerate economic growth and regional competitiveness.

The conference is expected to generate smaller provincial events to promote cybersecurity and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework in the next months in other PCTA regional conferences and technical workshops. The series of events will culminate in the PCTA National Convention in April 2023.

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