KINGSTON, Jamaica, August 28, 2021 - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang, says the Government is committed to improving the national and regional cybersecurity resilience and response.
“Cybercrime is a clear and present danger to every country in the region. This is the new frontier of national and regional security resilience, and an area in which the Government of Jamaica is deeply committed,” he said.
Dr. Chang was speaking at the opening of a two-day Virtual Caribbean Cybersecurity Skills Symposium on Wednesday (August 25).
Citing the 2019 Annual Cybercrime Report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the National Security Minister said it was estimated that cybercrime would cost the world in excess of $6 trillion annually by 2021.
“In light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) public health pandemic, the consequent increased reliance on information and communication technology (ICT), and with amplified cyberthreats, one could presume that this estimated cost will be surpassed by the end of this year,” he lamented.
Dr. Chang noted that according to cybersecurity experts, the current wave of ransomware cyberattacks that have been disrupting businesses in the United States, and other parts of the industrialised world, represents one of the many urgent challenges that both international and domestic businesses will now have to contend with, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the safety protocols which were designed to protect persons through this public health crisis have contributed to a level of cybermigration never before witnessed in the history of mankind.
“Within three months of the outbreak of COVID-19, millions of global citizens were forced to use the Internet for carrying out most of their day-to-day obligations – to work, purchase groceries, and connect with loved ones,” he said.
The Security Minister noted that this migration has not been lost on criminals, who have similarly migrated their illicit operations to cyberspace. He pointed out that conventional criminals are now able to perpetrate faceless crimes with costly repercussions for the businesses, government systems, and societies they target.
“Given this new cyber-based criminal landscape and the associated challenges faced by policymakers, law-enforcement officials, and business owners and operators across the region, this Caribbean Cybersecurity Skills Symposium is timely and critical to strengthening our region’s cybersecurity capacity and resilience.
The Symposium saw the launch of a Strategic Cybersecurity Training Needs Assessment that will serve to identify the cybersecurity knowledge and skills required to deliver and sustain strategic responses to combat malicious cyberactivity across the region.
The initiative, which is a significant action under the revised Draft National Cybersecurity Strategy of Jamaica, will inform the building of cybersecurity scholarship and talent to serve Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.
The National Security Minister noted that within CARICOM, there has been significant growth in cybercriminal activities over the last five years.
“The proliferation of illicit dark web activities by malicious actors within our jurisdiction has been growing both in terms of frequency as well as sophistication. Within the last few years, law-enforcement across the region have seen an exponential growth in the criminal usage of the dark web, as well as a conduit for criminal enterprises to launder their ill-gotten gains,” he said.
Dr. Chang contended that in this new cybercriminal landscape, law enforcement and those tasked with investigating cybercrime must be equipped with the necessary expertise and the best techniques, and they must move to become experts in crypto-based and other routing technology.
He noted that national and regional cybersecurity resilience that is capable of protecting critical infrastructure and priority sectors, requires a strong and capable cybersecurity workforce, an informed cyber-aware citizenry, and an adequate talent pool of cyber experts.
Dr. Chang added that this must be supported by continued research, innovation, specialised training in digital security, and the development of cybersecurity skills across all critical sectors.
“These are areas that, unfortunately, remain woefully deficient across Latin America and the Caribbean. The… Strategic Training Needs Assessment will enable us to address these deficiencies and better position countries in the Caribbean region to combat cybercrimes,” he said.
The undertaking of the training needs analysis is being supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
The Symposium was staged by the Government of Jamaica through the Office of the National Security Advisor with the support of Protection Group International and facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS).