By Dustin Fraser
The global economy is dependent on technology – driven by digital infrastructure. The technological innovations help businesses pursue their value chain activities and turn a profit for their owners and shareholders. It is, therefore, essential that CARICOM puts more emphasis on how technology can improve its social and economic development plans.
There are advances in the development of a robust internal telecommunication network infrastructure, with a bridge to the internet. The introduction of ICT projects, like access points in Guyana, are great strategies that bring the internet to the citizens of that country. The access points bring those citizens closer to the global economy. Yes, even Facebook is a player in this domain. These advances are note-worthy, but little attention placed on the development of a robust cybersecurity strategy to protect them.
A robust cybersecurity strategy is essential because, with the adoption of information systems, there are inherent risks. The term cybercrime would not be worrisome if we were not pursuing the adoption of information and communication technology. Therefore, cybercrime is not a phenomenon but a real, persistent threat. This threat must be addressed in a very holistic manner since it has the potential to deny and disrupt our society and economy.
The recent cybercrime laws form a great start in developing national cyber governance road maps. For example, Jamaica makes excellent strides in pursuing governance and has developed a maturing cybersecurity strategy that addresses their technical capabilities, human resource and capacity, legal and regulatory compliance, and socialization among our citizens. A measure of performance and effectiveness of this strategy is to develop a culture of cybersecurity. CARICOM can also achieve this, in addition to gaining a superior understanding of digital citizenship.
As we advance as a small nation and island states, we need to develop strategies that focus on the development of superior efficiency, quality of service, innovation, and sustainability. We need to ensure that we begin to create standards that set us apart and ensure success for every stakeholder. In our public sector, we need to implement advanced management information systems. In our private sector, we need to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experiences, and best practices. Since they both share the same critical infrastructure, we need to provide confidence in our cyber-physical systems.
Every stakeholder must contribute to research and development, innovation, and cybersecurity governance. However, this is not an easy process. How do we signal to the international community our preparedness for the cybersecurity challenges? How do we provide the defence-in-depth and in breadth needs of investors, among others? How do we signal the delivery of the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of national infrastructure so that they can be assured to abstract their businesses in our economy?
We can begin by developing “The CARICOM Cybersecurity Policy Charter.” The charter signals to the world: our states opened for business and committed to ensuring the protection of national socioeconomic information assets. As we embark on this activity, our leaders must furnish cybersecurity governance that considers international and foreign risk management frameworks as preferred languages into new and appropriate policies and standards. Our top priorities should be to begin addressing security in three dimensions: the development of incident response capabilities on the X-axis and the ability to stop cybercriminals in the context of the Cyber Kill-Chain on the Y-axis.
Then the abstraction of businesses and their value chain activities on the Z-axis. It is also essential that we strategically address roles and responsibilities, develop proper organizational structures, include formidable control mechanisms, and provide incentives to build a regional security culture.
It is not possible to cover all the various aspects of cybersecurity, strategy, and governance in a letter. However, this narrative spark the conversation about CARICOM’s cybersecurity posture as it benchmarks against Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Latin American countries.
Our region is at a point of exponential development. We must consider all the factors that can limit our ability to achieve economic and social advancement. Cybercrime affects economic and social stability. Cybersecurity is a driver for economic growth, and we must take full advantage of it. Our strategic partners have moved beyond ICT and have seen returns on investment from its adoption. They have invested heavily in cybersecurity. We must develop a strategy that provides reflective security governance as we participate in the global economy.