Cybersecurity: How safe is any Jamaican?

Editorial

Cybersecurity: How safe is any Jamaican?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

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Computerisation and the Internet, referred to as information and communications technology, has enormously improved the quality of life.

It has eliminated a great deal of travel and paper documents, has greatly increased the efficiency of business by cutting the amount of work and time to carry out any task, while reducing information storage.

It has also eliminated distance, making transactions across the globe instant with the press of a button, and has revolutionised social life and the availability of information and entertainment.

The worldwide availability of international communication technology, increasingly less expensive international transportation and the vastly expanded networks of physical infrastructure have made global connectivity a reality.

Connectivity has been facilitated by an increased willingness of governments to collaborate on transnational physical infrastructure. The number of connected devices has grown to 26.3 billion in 2020.

It has changed the production of goods and services, causing a de-materialisation of some activities and replacing them with software. For example, Uber is a software tool, it does not own any cars, and is now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb, the largest accommodation booking service, owns no hotel rooms.

However, every revolutionary change in technology has its downside — the security of information and the use of the technology. Cybersecurity is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from hacking motivated by greed, the technical challenge and malicious intent.

The number of records which experienced data breach increased by 150 per cent in 2019. It seems that no system is safe from hacking. Bad enough that hacking is carried out by criminals, including in Jamaica where commercial banks have been hit badly, but hacking is now a national security issue worldwide because there is State-sponsored hacking.

When there is a cybersecurity issue on a global scale, it is expected that governments will take action to protect their citizens and that there will be international cooperation among governments.

The problem is that many governments are engaged in hacking. It is alleged that the Government of the People's Republic of China is involved in hacking industrial technologies and Russia is claimed to have intervened in the US presidential elections and to be actively hacking the research into the production of a vaccine to counter COVID-19.

Is Jamaica in a state of readiness to handle cybersecurity? Are e-mails, cellular phones and communications on social media confidential? There is a National Cyber Security Strategy but has it been implemented?

Moreover, does the Government have the expertise to handle threats to our cybersecurity by ensuring that there is national capacity to detect, respond and recover from cyber incidents? Do the police have the expertise to fight cybercrime from scamming, to money laundering to financial institution fraud?

While the level of violent crime demands urgent attention, we must not overlook the critical issues of cybercrime and cybersecurity.


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