Gov't looks to partners to up country's cyber defence

Gov't looks to partners to up country's cyber defence

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, December 05, 2019

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NATIONAL Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says cyber defence is an expensive venture.

In his address at the opening of the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Hilton Resort and Spa in St James on Tuesday, the minister noted that it is difficult for small countries to develop their own capacity, hence the importance of partnerships.

“In the process of collaborating we have to build our own capacity, which can be quite expensive and a challenge to smaller states. To this extent, as a Government, we are pursuing those lines in Jamaica, but looking at how we can collaborate is critical because we are aware that cyber defence is an expensive item and is difficult for small states to do it individually,” reasoned Dr Chang.

He argued that in order to identify, analyse and evaluate cyber threats, there is a need to maintain strategic partnerships. He said one such partnership that Jamaica has formed is a collaboration between Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team and the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Committee against Terrorism.

He added that Jamaica also has partnerships with the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Through these partnerships, we are working to develop an early warning system, which will include the Security Information and Event Management System network. This network will allow for a more proactive approach to cybersecurity, strengthened cooperation between the OAS member states, and, in turn, improve our cyber resilience which is critical to our security and our economic activity,” Dr Chang said.

The minister pointed to the importance of having a strong digitisation of government and cyber defence activities in place.

“If we severely damage our financial system, as small-island developing states, the impact on it is far greater than for a large country that has a much bigger economy, and a much stronger financial infrastructure. In addition to that, if there are obvious weaknesses in our system...it reduces the inflow of foreign direct investment because any large company that faces a risk of having their system invaded, because they invested in the Caribbean, they are not going to come.

“So, there is much incentive to ensure that we have, not only a strong digitisation of government, but we have to accompany that by strong cyber defence activities,” he insisted.

According to the national security minister, data protection is critical to the security infrastructure of any governance system, and, as a result, the Government has sought to address the finalisation of a Data Protection Bill. He added that, following a thorough process of consultations and the arduous work of a joint select committee, the Bill will provide a much-needed framework and guidelines for securing and protecting people's data.

He said, too, that this will strengthen, even further, Jamaica's overall cybersecurity infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams has disclosed that for the first seven months of this year, the country has seen an increase in the receipt of fraudulent e-mails requesting payments.

The minister, who was addressing the same workshop, did not disclose figures.

She also said data from the ministry's 2018 report on cyber incidents have indicated that there is an increase in events related to debit and credit card point of sale terminals activity, and social media incidents of marketing, fraud and bullying. Malware infections are also on the list.

In the meantime, the minister, in congratulating the US Embassy for hosting the workshop, noted that implementing effective cybersecurity measures is challenging in today's era of technology.

“There are more devices than people in the world and attackers are becoming more and more innovative. We have to expend all efforts to be miles ahead of these attackers,” urged Williams.

The three-day workshop, which continues today and is co-hosted by the Government of Jamaica, is being held under the theme: 'Taking Steps to Strengthen Policy, Legislation and Regional Partnerships'.


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