Just like most people in Asia, people in the Philippines are strong followers of new technologies. Social media in the country has been widely used for many purposes, such as e-commerce and information dissemination. Mobile adoption is also increasing. What we found out is that the habits of Filipinos also carry over into their startups and small businesses, which has some security implications.
Philippine users’ habits
Security solutions firm Blue Coat took a close look at the Philippine landscape and shared with us what people are doing and why they should be more careful. Blue Coat chief security strategist Dr. Hugh Thompson says the Philippines is undergoing “a massive transformation in the way that people work and adopt new technologies.” He adds:
We’re starting to see more and more adoption of technology which was originally used for consumers, are now being used for businesses.
Here are a few of them:
- Workers are mobile – The recent TNS survey shows consumers in Metro Manila own an average of 4.6 devices each. It means they have a multitude of devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones. Hugh says these people want to use these personal devices for work, and it accounts for productivity.
- Apps for work – Along the lines of his first point, Hugh notes that Filipinos are generally inclined to connecting through smartphones.They want to use apps for work, and “people can now choose the apps they want to use.”
- Highly-social environment – “Philippine companies that are winning in the marketplace are those getting that direct connect to the consumers faster,” says Hugh. In most cases, startups and businesses are engaging to customers through social media apart from their websites.
The problem with this is when people use their personal devices for business or work, there’s confidential data involved. I asked Hugh if small businesses in the Philippines pay enough attention to security, and his answer was a blunt “no.”
The problem with security, according to him, is the varying metrics. In the Philippines where the adoption rate of businesses with different technologies is high, Hugh affirms that there are higher risks in this region than in other markets. Startups and businesses are rarely found at an office desk. They are out and might be using wireless access points through mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. People should know that by doing so, chances are the data might be intercepted, or your device can be exploited.
What apps are people using? We’ve seen that Dropbox has been compromised in the past, and if people use this for business, it can be a threat to the data they put in it. “The most critical thing in this market is having trusted applications, there is a need to layer trust in applications,” says Hugh. It may still be advisable to get business storage plans and shed a few bucks for security. Business managers should take a look at available online storage platform and weigh its pros and cons.
It’s all about data
Data is one of the biggest issues that makes security so important for businesses today, regardless of how small or big a company is. Especially during these times. Even government sites are being hacked. Hugh notes that business in the Philippines is maturing. But maturity when it comes to security is not on par, and they only take action when they’ve been compromised. He adds that they “have to look at [security] as a business competency.”
Though we don’t like to generalize the lack of security in businesses in the Philippines, it’s still crucial to note that it’s something businesses should not take lightly. The micro, small, and medium enterprises account for 99.6 percent of all businesses in the country and play an important role in the country’s economy.
(Editing by Anh-Minh Do and Paul Bischoff)