DITO threat of cyber attacks raised anew

DITO threat of cyber attacks raised anew | Senator Grace Poe | Juan Manila

MANILA Despite an agreement between PLDT, Inc. and DITO Telecommunity Corporation, senators are still wary of cyber threats and attacks against the country’s internet infrastructure, including those posed by state-sponsored hacking groups.

Even National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. acknowledges cyber threats against the country.

“We are aware of possible threats. We know that in cyberspace there are third-party operators or unknown hackers who could always disturb our systems,” Esperon admits before the Senate public services committee when it tackled the franchise renewal of China-backed DITO telecom company in December last year.

But Senator Grace Poe laments over an apparent lack of a proper plan to protect the country from cyberattacks.

“This is the problem we’re talking about. The franchise of Dito Telecommunity. One of the issues being brought forth is how do we protect ourselves knowing that a certain percentage of ownership is owned by a foreign national,” Poe asks.

She goes on: “How can the Government assure us that they’ve given a fair assessment of the safety to our sovereignty if we don’t even have a proper cybersecurity group that does the assessment?”

Critics have pointed out that China Telecom Corp. Ltd., one of the listed companies of state-owned China Telecommunications Corporation, has a 40-percent stake at DITO, a conglomerate led by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy. In 2018, it was selected to become the country’s third telecommunications player.

Security concerns were raised over DITO after the country’s defense department inked a deal allowing the company to build cell sites inside Philippine military camps. (JSM/JuanManila)

Xi Jinping will ‘bring Taiwan back into China’ in mid-January 2021, ex-US officials say

In an essay published by the United States (US) Naval Institute, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Michael Morell and former Admiral James Winnefeld warned that with the West distracted by the US election and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping will “bring Taiwan back into China” in mid-January 2021 in just three days.

Morell and Winnefeld paint a worst-case scenario. They predict the operation will unfold quickly, “beginning on the evening of 18 January” before the US presidential inauguration. China will also carry out cyberattacks to cripple the country by disabling the national power grid and other essential utilities, followed by a swift sea and air blockade, with several People’s Liberation Army (PLA) submarines joining in the action.

China will send stern warnings to the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and other Taiwanese allies not to intervene. Global stock markets will crash on the second day and world leaders will condemn the attack, but nothing more. Bogged down by multiple issues, Washington will be unable to react. On the third day after the attack, Morell and Winnefeld believe it will be too late for Washington to reverse the damage. Xi will then whitewash the invasion by telling the world that the “Chinese Dream” has been fulfilled and “welcome the people of Taiwan home.”