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JAMAICA | Wheatley urges Vigilance in light of latest Computer Chip Vulnerabilities

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. Andrew Wheatley Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. Andrew Wheatley
KINGSTON, January 5, 2018 -  Minister of Science Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley today urged local businesses, government agencies and individuals alike to be vigilant in light of recent vulnerabilities found in microprocessors.

The Minister noted that the latest vulnerabilities dubbed Spectre and Meltdown which affects devices that use Intel, AMD or ARM microchips/processors must be taken very seriously as it impacts mobile devices, laptops, workstations and servers.

The hardware vulnerability which was discovered by researchers from academia and Google, highlights a microprocessor flaw that if exploited, could allow an attacker to gain access to sensitive data in ways previously unheard of.

Minister Wheatley continued: “as a country we must take this situation seriously. Small and large businesses, Hospitals, Utility companies, Telecommunications firms, entities in the health, finance and insurance sector must all take the necessary steps to secure and update their computer systems to mitigate against any attack that may result from these two vulnerabilities”

This latest vulnerability has prompted software and hardware giants to issue security updates and patches to mitigate any immediate issues.

Dr. Wheatley is assuring the country that the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT) has been monitoring the situation and has sent advisories to all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the practices that must be employed to mitigate against exploitation of these vulnerabilities.

The Jamaica CIRT has been working round the clock with local stakeholders, international partners and with private sector experts to lead any needed response

  • The JaCIRT has suggested two basic steps that should be followed in an effort to mitigate against exploitation of this vulnerability:
    Ensure systems are patched as soon as the patches are released by vendors
    Ensure all software to date as at January 5, 2018 and constantly updated as vendors release updates.

The Minister stated that currently there has been no reported case of either of the vulnerabilities being exploited in Jamaica however,  with the release of the vulnerabilities into the pubic domain we need to ensure that all protective measures are put in place.
 
In conclusion Dr. Wheatley said “It is clear from the increase in the number of global cyber attacks taking place, that the world has now entered a new paradigm where a new type of warfare prevails, that of electronic warfare where the weapons are not only bombs or bullets but 1’s and 0’s. Protection of information systems and electronic data has become more important than ever because cyber attacks can now cripple economies. This is something we cannot afford to happen to our country.”

  • Countries: Jamaica