By Gerard Best
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuesday December 19, 2017 — Internet adoption in the Caribbean is increasing rapidly, but so too are new threats and risks for people, business and governments going online. Cyber-attacks and cyber crime are being reported with greater frequency. Now, St Vincent and the Grenadines has become the latest Eastern Caribbean country to take steps to address the issue of national cyber security.
A national cyber security symposium, facilitated by the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) and the newly formed local Internet Society Chapter, was recently held in the country, drawing participants from other islands, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and St Kitts and Nevis.
“This symposium is just the start of a broader dialogue about cyber security issues, and is an important step towards framing a more coordinated national approach to cyber security,” said Bevil Wooding, an executive director of CaribNOG and Caribbean outreach liaison for the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which was one of the main supporters along with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Packet Clearing House (PCH).
Wooding, the keynote speaker, explained the types of threats being faced in the Caribbean, as well as the work being done by various groups to protect the region’s Internet.
“CaribNOG and ARIN are working closely with stakeholders across the Caribbean to support the security and strengthening of computer networks in the region. Education and technical capacity initiatives like the cyber security symposium help raise nationwide awareness of threats as well as the opportunities. This is key to protecting our digital borders against emerging cyber threats,” he said.
“It’s important that persons from every sector of society understand the importance of cyber security issues, so that all can participate meaningfully in the public policy development process,” added Dr Jerrol Thompson, Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Prime Minister, who delivered remarks on behalf of Camillo Gonsalves, Minister with responsibility for ICT.
Stephen Lee, programme director of CaribNOG, said cyber security has been very high on that organizaton’s agenda, in particular over the last few years, as the frequency and magnitude of cyber incidents globally has continued to rise.
“In St Vincent, the emphasis was on practical steps to set up Computer Security Incident Response Teams to help countries and groups to better detect and respond to cyber-attacks and cyber incidents. In 2018, we plan to stage similar events across the Caribbean,” he said.
The two-day symposium included a broad range of stakeholders, including law makers, law enforcers, Courts, educators, academics, parents and young people.
Shernon Osepa, Manager of Regional Affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society, highlighted the importance of collaboration to address the issue of cyber security.
“Cyber criminals do not respect national borders. Cybercrime can span countries and continents. That is why a multi-stakeholder, collaborative approach to cybersecurity is so important. We need to work together to protect our assets and our data in the digital age,” Osepa said.