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NEWS | May 18, 2017

Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S. Military Host Cyber Exchange

By Senior Airman Corey Pettis

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City, Philippines -- Protecting yourself online has become an increasingly important part of life. Whether responsible for military, business or personal home computers, all individuals should take risk management steps to secure online data.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military held a cybersecurity subject matter expert exchange at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, that began May 15 and continues until May 18 as a part of Exercise Balikatan 2017. The event includes a two-day risk management focus group, designed to exchange information on the fundamentals of cybersecurity and network risk management.

During the focus group, an instructor from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific presented risk management information about defensive cybersecurity that utilizes open-sourced industry standards.

“Yesterday was about risk management, and today is about crafting policies based on those risks,” said Philippine Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Minguillan, a focus group attendee with the Naval Communication Technology Center. “This will help us in crafting the policies that are needed for the whole organization as far as cybersecurity is concerned.”

After reviewing information on cybersecurity and risk management, members of the AFP and U.S. military discussed current events in the cybersecurity world and exchanged ideas on how to prevent future breaches.

“They had the brief on risk management and they came up with some things that they wanted to discuss based on what is going on in the world in regards to cybersecurity and the recent cyberattacks,” said Derrick Ota, cyber defense planner, MARFORPAC.

One of these events is the recent worldwide ransomware cyberattack known as WannaCry, which affected hundreds of thousands of people on networks throughout the world. This development coincides with some of the discussion in the focus group.

“I will be going over acceptable use policies, cyberattacks, and how that affects what’s going on in the world,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Matthew Pfluger, cyber defense planner, MARFORPAC. “The purpose is really just to help [the AFP] enhance their cybersecurity posture at a user level.”

This exchange will allow AFP and U.S. counterparts to work together in crafting defensive network policies and protecting users through sharing cybersecurity fundamentals.

“We have a common need,” said Minguillan. “At this time we are trying to level our understanding of cybersecurity. For us, learning this information and applying it to our networks is essential.”

Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine bilateral military exercise focused on a variety of missions, and this cybersecurity exchange is a vital piece of improving interoperability of the two nations’ armed forces.

“Information sharing between partners is something that’s very important to both the U.S. and AFP,” Ota said.

Ota added that more subject matter expert exchanges conducted between the U.S. and AFP will help both forces grow with confidence and set the stage for future engagements.