By Garwin Davis
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia, is calling for a united approach among nations in combatting the growing problem of cybercrime.
Addressing a cybersecurity workshop for Latin American and Caribbean countries in Montego Bay, he noted that while the internet has changed lives, ushered in new industries and provided for greater connectivity at lower costs, it has also brought cyber-related threats.
“Billions of devices are connected to the Internet, some with relatively little attention to security, while bad actors have become bigger and better equipped to launch cyberattacks and nations have been hard-pressed to keep up,” ambassador Tapia said.
He noted that banks have been spending billions of dollars on security devices to protect their operations and customers. “The global reach of the Internet allows individuals, criminal organisations and even nations to impact not just the region but the whole world. Because of the transnational nature of the issue, we must all work together to tackle these shared threats,” adding, “Internet growth has obviously brought numerous opportunities for the region [but] we have to be vigilant in our approach going forward,” he said.
Minister of science, energy and technology, Fayval Williams, agreed, citing a 2018 report on cybercrime, which showed that there has been an increase in credit and debit card fraud locally as well as identity theft and ransom-related emails.
“These are only a few of the cases that emphasise the need for vigilance on the part of everyone and also the need for countries to have a robust cyber infrastructure,” ambassador Tapia added “that the regional workshop represents a significant step in addressing cybercrime as a national security and economic priority”.
He noted that the countries of the Americas have planned several events throughout 2020 that will “strengthen our mutual national security to advance the security of our citizens. A key element of these programmes is to help dismantle transnational criminals and terrorist organisations while curbing the trafficking of illicit goods and people,” he said.
Previously, minister Williams, said the government of Jamaica is developing critical partnerships to strengthen the country’s defence against cybercrime.
She noted that the Organization of American States (OAS) through its Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, has been working with the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (JaCIRT) to implement an early warning system. “This system will help to fortify Jamaica’s cyber infrastructure by facilitating the delivery of more timely alerts regarding cyberthreats,” she said.
The Jamaican government has begun to engage in meaningful discourse “to shape our legislative framework to protect our identities and data”, she noted. The Data Protection Bill, which is before parliament, will provide a powerful tool in safeguarding the country’s digital space.
“The Bill, the minister said, will usher in a new paradigm and establish a uniform, robust and clear framework with respect to the protection of people’s personal and sensitive personal data. We are creating a firm ground upon which every Jamaican, organisation and industry can trust that they are operating in a system that works,” she added.