AI can’t badly hurt Philippines’ BPO sector, says Kaspersky Lab » Manila Bulletin Business

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By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Phuket, Thailand — Over the past months, there has been a lot of concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) sector. But multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab is convinced that although AI is already here, it couldn’t disrupt the local call center business in a threatening way.

Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Great APAC Kaspersky Lab, said in an interview here that when it comes to AI, the Philippines must just focus on skills development among its workers.

Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director, APAC Kaspersky Lab

“There will always be a difference between humans and machines. Machines will always have its constraints. It will be fast in searching information, pulling out data from its database, so it may surpass human assistance. But there will always be a difference when talking to a real human,” Kamluk told Business Bulletin on the sidelines of the 3rd  Asia Pacific (APAC) Cyber Security Weekend.

“What may help the Philippines, if they really want to protect their call centers and other businesses, is to invest and improve the quality of the people working on this area. So that when it comes to comparison of machine versus human, there will always be a better quality,” he added.

Nevertheless, he said that he does not think human-based call center services will disappear.

“After all, there will always be difference. Humans are not like robots. They (Philippine government and private sector) should focus on making this difference visible. Because if you have less skilled workers, they will be comparable to silly machines,” he further said.

It was reported last week that the BPO sector in the Philippines is now starting to see the need to heighten efforts to address the possible impact of what is described as “disruptive technological headwinds” — such as AI, automation, and robotics — to the industry’s Filipino workforce.

This, while the sector is now projected to only grow by 9 percent annually starting this year until 2022 in terms of revenues, which is slower than the “mid-teen” growth it experienced in previous years.

Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Great APAC Kaspersky Lab

Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Great APAC Kaspersky Lab

Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) President Rey Untal earlier said that with the “looming threat of AI and automation” to the BPO sector, their organization decided to elevate the discussion on this issue moving forward.

As part of the 3rd  Asia Pacific (APAC) Cyber Security Weekend here,  Kaspersky Lab also unriddled   on Wednesday the mysterious   threat of cyber-espionage against countries, critical infrastructure, and companies in the region.

Equipped with detailed histories of previous cyberespionage attacks against countries in the Asia  Pacific, Kaspersky Lab exposed the current state of the cyberespionage threat landscape in the region.

“While   modern   hackers   are   not   keeping   records   of   their   attacks,   cybersecurity   researchers  are thoroughly documenting their tracks to understand their techniques and predict their next moves. After the infamous Stuxnet worm in 2010, Kaspersky Lab experts have witnessed a significant number of high-profile cyberespionage attacks singling out countries in the Asia Pacific region,” said Vitaly Kamluk, Kaspersky Lab’s Director of Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) in APAC.

Cyber espionage attacks across APAC and the Far East regions involves virtual spies infecting all range of mobile devices and slowly targeting businesses and infrastructure.

“Cyberespionage,   a   subset   of   intelligence   activities   in   cyberspace,   is   covert   in   nature.   The   new generation of spies are not doing physical James Bond-style operations anymore – they are regular software   developers   and   system   operators.   Their   achievements   remain   in   the   darkness   until researchers like Kaspersky’s GReAT discover and document their activities,” Kamluk said.

“The attackers are not writing  the history of cyberattacks, but researchers do. And it doesn’t come as easy as making documentaries or writing memoirs. The work of researchers require high concentration and solving of multiple difficult logical problems on the way, which is why these stories are so valuable,”  he added.

According to him, as majority of APAC countries like the Philippines are in their infant stage of gearing up their defenses against more sophisticated online threats, Kaspersky Lab now urges the public and private sectors to work together in fast tracking cybersecurity laws and measures that will guard their   cyberspace.

“A cyber espionage   is   borderless.   It   is   no   longer   a   question   of possibility, it is now a question of when and how worst an attack will be,” warned Kamluk.

Through the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Philippine government is now working to build on its digital infrastructure as part of its preparation to combat the increasing number of cyberattacks.

In fact, the government recently created the National CyberSecurity Plan 2022 (NCSP), which was formulated to beef up the country’s cybersecurity capabilities.

During the annual summit, Kaspersky Lab brought  together  its  top security experts along with industry professionals and journalists from 11 countries across APAC.

“Cyber   espionage   is   a  dangerous   and   costly   threat   targeting   nations   and   corporations around the world, including nations right here in the Asia Pacific region. Kaspersky Lab today aims to sound the alarm louder about this imminent danger so we can step up our efforts to strengthen our infrastructure  and   protect  the  public,” Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director at Kaspersky Lab APAC, also said during the conference.

The four-day event is set to highlight presentations from its top security researchers to reveal   the   truths   and   bust   myths   about   cyberespionage,   an   alarming   threat   which   has crossed the worlds of fiction and reality.

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