Jamaica must guard against cybercriminals, says Fortinet director

Jamaica must guard against cybercriminals, says Fortinet director

The Digital Life

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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THE importance of protecting Jamaica's vital infrastructure is reinforced in Fortinet's 2020 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report.

Layard Terrero, Fortinet systems engineer and director for Central America and the Caribbean, says that Jamaica, like many other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, needs to keep pace with the requirements to protect critical national assets from cybercrimes.

The Fortinet report highlights the critical role of operational technical (OT) leaders at a time when intrusions are on the increase.

“Cyber security continues to be an integral part of their daily work — and that work continues to be a struggle,” the report notes, adding that OT leaders “are highly respected in their organisations, and their teams are vital to their companies' bottom lines”.

Terrero says that, in the Jamaican context, this would translate to companies with old technologies and which are isolated from the Internet transforming to ensure that critical protection is in place. “Opening up these systems to remote control required very stringent protocols to protect and prevent cyber threats,” he explains.

In the Fortinet survey, only 8% of respondents had seen no intrusions over the past 12 months, a decline of 18 percentage points compared to a similar study a year ago.

Meanwhile, the share of organisations experiencing three or more intrusions increased from 47% to 65% over that same period. These intrusions often impacted operational efficiency, revenue, and even physical safety.

But the research also shows a significant percentage of organisations have not included some elements of basic security hyinto their OT environments. The April 2020 survey of OT leaders conducted by Fortinet indicates that, as a whole, organisations are moving in the wrong direction in terms of outcomes. It is a worrying trend for Jamaica and many countries that have increased online activity as a result of COVID-19.

Terrero points out that there is a need for the systems to be updated to ensure cyber security, instead of relying on conventional methods for managing company-wide communications.

In his native Dominican Republic he had a front-row seat to the transformation required to protect vital infrastructure and get a solid understanding of what is needed to keep up with new threats from cybercriminals.

He suggests the need for an operational centre to keep tabs on critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid, water supply and telecommunications facilities.

The Fortinet report points to the value of critical technology leaders playing a key role in operational efficiencies across the national economy.

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