Accountability sought for PhilHealth cyberattack

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 26) — A lawmaker wants the government to make state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) accountable for failing to protect its system against cybercriminals, calling the incident an “attack on public health.”

"Ang cyberattack laban sa PhilHealth ay hindi lamang atake laban sa isang institusyon ng gobyerno. Ito ay atake laban sa bawat indibidwal na miyembro ng PhilHealth at sa kanilang karapatan sa secured at accessible na tulong medikal,” Senator Mark Villar said in a statement on Monday.

[Translation: The cyber-attack against PhilHealth is not only an attack against the institution of government. It’s also an attack on every individual who is a member of PhilHealth and their right to have medical secure and accessible medical help.]

The lawmaker said he filed Resolution No. 811 to investigate the Medusa ransomware attack on the PhilHealth system, as well as other cyberattacks on government websites.

READ: Hackers demand $300,000 for compromised PhilHealth database

Villar called on government to step up efforts to secure digital space.

Meanwhile, policy think tank Infrawatch PH also expressed its concerns, saying “heads should roll” given that PhilHealth has multibillion-peso funds for IT projects.

"It's disconcerting that despite a budget of Php100.2 billion for 2023, the highest among Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), PhilHealth has failed to secure its database. Heads should roll. Why is there no adequate system in place to combat this mess?" Infrawatch PH Convenor Terry Ridon said in a statement on Monday.

Ridon cited the agency's alleged overpriced IT projects, which were also questioned earlier by the Commission on Audit.

READ: PhilHealth chief endorsed 'overpriced' IT projects, says official

"The irregularities in the IT project, including overpricing by P98 million, raise questions about the integrity of PhilHealth's cybersecurity measures. It's not just about the money but about the trust of most Filipinos with PhilHealth coverage,” Rigon said.

“The massive website hack is a clear breach of public trust, and those responsible must be held accountable," he added.

The expert emphasized the need for "transparent investigation" as the cyberattack affects the digital footprint of many Filipinos.