Cybersecurity for MSMEs Seminar (an AIM-MCS2024 Capstone Project in Ormoc City: Attorney Donna Villa Gaspan-Cerna and Fjordan Allego, MCS 2024 Cohorts

March 07, 2024
Cybersecurity is everybody's concern, especially as digitalization penetrates further into governance, business operations, and everyday life.

Written by Atty. Donna Villa Gaspan-Cerna and Fjordan Allego, MCS 2024 

Edited by the AIM Integrated Marketing Communications Group

L-R: Atty. Donna Gaspan-Cerna, MCS 2024 Capstone Researcher; Mr. Noel Mendoza, LGU Business Permits and Licensing Office Ormoc City Head; Mr. Mario Demarillas, Chief Information Security Officer of Exceture; and Mr. Fjordan Allego, MCS 2024 Capstone Researcher

MAKATI, Philippines – In the digital age, cybersecurity is critical as governance, business, and daily life rely more on digitalization. To address this, it is vital to take proactive steps: stay informed about threats, use strong passwords, implement multi-factor authentication, regularly back up data, adopt comprehensive security policies, and conduct routine security assessments. These measures are essential globally to protect against evolving cyber threats.

In July 2023, Ormoc City's Local Government Unit (LGU) partnered with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Master in Cybersecurity (MCS) program to enhance cybersecurity awareness in the community. The collaboration received a warm reception, notably from respected leaders like former and current Ormoc City Mayors Richard Gomez and Lucy Torres-Gomez. They are known for their forward-thinking management style, which aligns with Ormoc's aspiration to become a “Smart Green City of the Future.” 

To deal with cybersecurity concerns head-on, the Ormoc City LGU officially supported a capstone research project by the AIM Master in Cybersecurity students. This project focused on assessing cybersecurity knowledge among small enterprises in Ormoc City, particularly those in the hospitality industry. A seminar held on 22 September 2023, led by the team of AIM MCS students Fjordan Allego and Mario Demarillas, intended to raise awareness among micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) about cybersecurity best practices. The event facilitated valuable discussions and surveys among participants. It also shed light on the importance of cybersecurity hygiene for small businesses, particularly in the face of rapid digitalization impacting the city's economy. Ormoc City Council member Dr. Gregorio Yrastorza III attended the seminar and spoke on behalf of Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez.

Poster of the event


74 Hospitality industry professionals attended the event

The discussions revealed that attendees had surface-level knowledge of cybersecurity and needed guidance on how this aspect may influence their companies and, in turn, the city’s economy. With this in mind, the MCS Student Capstone research team pledged to share their findings with the Ormoc City LGU to shape local policies on cybersecurity risk management. With a focus on understanding the perspectives of hotel owners and managers, the research aimed to address the vulnerabilities faced by MSMEs in the hospitality sector amidst the rapid pace of digitalization, especially considering the city's burgeoning tourism industry. 

The seminar's success, attended by 74 hospitality industry professionals, demonstrated a strong demand for more awareness initiatives on cybersecurity and its implications for small companies. The LGU's unwavering support, spearheaded by Mr. Noel Mendoza and Ms. Cheryl Gallo, was instrumental in facilitating this collaboration between AIM MCS and the local community. 

The Asian Institute of Management's Master in Cybersecurity program, accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), underscores its commitment to equipping professionals with the technical and managerial skills necessary to tackle cybersecurity challenges effectively.

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