Jamaica aims to improve technology sector against cyber attacks

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday May 30, 2013 – The Jamaica government says it will soon implement a a cyber emergency response team (CERT) to assist in the protection of the island’s internet infrastructure by coordinating defences against and responses to cyber attacks and threats.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson, said that CERT should become operational by December and that the team will serve as a trusted national point of contact/clearinghouse for cyber threat identification, defence coordination and management.

Robinson said it would also enable the development of an infrastructure for coordinating response to threats, and conduct incident, vulnerability and artefact analyses. It will also help organisations develop their own incident management capabilities.

Robinson told legislators that the Portia Simpson-Miller government has entered into an agreement with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to provide technical assistance to establish the CERT and to assist in the building and deployment of the related technical capabilities.

He said the consultations should begin in June and the deliverables under the project include the establishment of a functioning national CERT, which is able to provide its constituents with a basic set of services, that will identify, respond to, and manage cyber threats; identification of a national critical information infrastructure sectors and establishment of a foundation that will be able to further elaborate and implement a national cyber security strategy; and to build local capabilities and knowledge transfer.

Robinson said that the legislation amending the existing cybercrimes legislation will be tabled in Parliament by December.

The amendment will strengthen the existing legal framework and ensure that it is consistent with international best practice, as well as able to effectively criminalise emerging types of cybercrime.

The Cybercrimes Act was promulgated in 2010. Section 21 of the Act requires that its provisions be reviewed by a Joint Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament after the expiration of two years from the date of commencement of the Act.

Meanwhile, Robinson announced that a number of government ministries and agencies will participate in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Pilot Project, schedule for July.

The six-month project is aimed at providing the government with a viable and sustainable alternative to proprietary software products, thereby reducing cost in the procurement and management of software licences.

“Every time in every government department, if you have a desktop computer that, for instance, has Microsoft on it or any other software, the government has to pay a licensing fee…it costs the government significant sums to pay these fees,” Robinson said.

He said the project is expected to: produce an inception report outlining the allocation of resources and the plan for knowledge transfer to the government; conduct a critical review of the previous FOSS pilot undertaken by the government as part of the Inter-American Development Bank/Information and Communications Technology (IDB/ICT) Project.

Robinson also disclosed that the University of the West Indies (UWI), in partnership with Microsoft, has established an information technology centre aimed to fostering innovation and stimulating a sustainable local software economy.

The Microsoft Innovation Centre (UWI MIC), which will be hosted through the UWI Business Centre, is expected to be opened in August.    

Robinson said the project, which is supported by the government is “designed to accelerate technology and stimulate the local software economy through skills and professional training, including partnerships and innovation.”

Among its various components are an IT academy; a developer camp; an Imagine Cup preparation programme; and a MIC Technical Trainee and Student-to-Business module. 

Robinson told legislators that Microsoft has committed to fund 12 Tech-entrepreneurs to serve in the centre, as support staff. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)