By Filane Mikee Cervantes

TECHNICAL GLITCH. Passengers at NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City queue at the check-in counter as it resumes its operation after the Air Traffic Management Center of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines experienced a technical glitch on Jan. 1, 2023. The incident affected over 56,000 passengers. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) expects to complete by next week its investigation on whether the New Year’s Day air traffic glitch was due to a cyberattack, an official bared on Wednesday.

During a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Alexander Ramos, head of the CICC, said there is no conclusive finding yet to rule out the possibility of a cyberattack in relation to the incident that caused cancellations and delayed flights affecting over 56,000 passengers.

“We haven’t concluded. We haven’t finished the analysis of data,” Ramos said.

When asked how long it would take to finish the investigation on the necessary logs to determine if there was an external breach into the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system, Ramos replied “within one more week.”

Ramos noted that the investigation is taking too long because of the sheer size of the CNS/ATM system, which is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

“The complete investigation on the CAAP system, malaki po yang system nila eh, hindi pa po kumpleto (it is a vast system, is not yet complete). We are addressing the most critical part which is the one that is powering up the whole system,” he said.

“Iyan po ang aming (That is our) directive to ensure continuity, to ensure quality, to ensure hindi nagagalaw siya externally (that it is not accessed externally). As far as the operational side, no, we haven’t even finished the assessment on it,” he added.

He also admitted that the agency lacked tools and equipment to fast-track its cyber threat analysis.

He said the CICC cannot complete the probe “fast enough” due to lack of surveillance systems, as he called for the restoration of the PHP400-million budget cut under DICT’s 2023 budget.

“It can be said like this.. we are given sticks and stones to go to war, but we are not backing down. We are doing it based on capability. Give us the tools maybe we can,” he said. (PNA)