Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 19th 2013 Contents BG26 COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 2013 • WEEK THREE
More affordable Internet
activity has an interest-
ing side-effect the world
over. The more connect-
ed countries, business, governments and people
become, the greater the risk that they will
exposed to online criminal activity, or worse,
become victims of cybercrime.
The Caribbean is not immune. In the recent
past, hackers and cybercriminals have targeted
the region s governments, financial institutions,
businesses and even educational institutions.
All signs point to such incidents increasing,
not decreasing, as the region presses forward
with its technology development agenda.
Improving the quality of life and strength-
ening global competitiveness is now inextri-
cably linked to investment in and appropriation
of information and communications technology
(ICT). However, the real downside of organised
online crime, hacktivists, saboteurs, and other
malicious users is pushing some Caribbean
countries to urgently ramp up their cyberse-
curity efforts. Sadly, not all Caribbean gov-
ernments or companies fully understand the
ramifications of cyber-threats or the priority
of having a coordinated approach to addressing
Coordinating the response
"Cyber-attack trends and security threats
cropping up across the Caribbean are a point
of real concern," says Bernadette Lewis, sec-
retary general of the Caribbean Telecommu-
nications Union (CTU).
"As the region becomes more dependent
on technology in business and everyday life,
companies and individuals have to become
more deliberate about protecting their digital
The CTU is an inter-governmental organ-
isation responsible for ICT development and
coordination in the Caribbean. It is one of the
regional organisations at the forefront of
increasing public awareness of cybersecurity
The CTU has been actively working with
regional and international bodies such as the
International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
and the Organisation of American States Inter-
American Committee against Terrorism
(CICTE), to sensitise governments, security
agencies and the general public about the spe-
cific measures that can be taken.
"Our responsibility is to ensure that our
region s governments, organisations and cit-
izens are aware of the threats we face in today s
digitally connected world and what can be
done to defend against them," Lewis shared,
adding "The good news is that potentially, we
have the human resource expertise in the
region and in the Caribbean Diaspora to face
our cybersecurity challenges head on. The task
at hand is to coordinate these resources into
a meaningful regional response."
A question of trust
Co-ordinating the regional response to
cybersecurity is not a simple matter of calling
meetings and giving lectures. In cybersecurity,
trust is the single most important currency.
Trust is not limited to confidence in security
systems and best practices. Effective cyber-
security strategies are founded on trust between
The more public, private and government
networks are interconnected, the greater the
requirement for collaboration between organ-
isations to protect the commonly shared
resources. However, collaborative initiatives
can be undermined when there is suspicion
or mistrust between parties about how access
will be managed.
Computer networking expert, Stephen Lee,
shared, "People have legitimate concerns about
governments, particularly intelligence agencies,
accessing private networks and personal data.
Sharing infrastructure assets or data between
competing organisations can also be fraught
Jamaica-born Lee is a founding member of
the Caribbean Network Operators Group
(CaribNOG), a volunteer-based technical asso-
ciation for computer professionals.
Lee, who heads the US-based computer
networking firm ArkiTechs, has spent the past
few years working through CaribNOG to build
a regional network of trustworthy computer
security and networking engineers.
"Cybersecurity is all about taking appropriate
steps to build confidence and trust in the use
of ICTs by the end users," he shared, adding
"In the fight against organised cyber-criminals,
hackers and digital deviants you can think of
CaribNOG as one of the good guys,"
CaribNOG s mission is to ensure that the
region has a trusted pool of computer security
resources who can be quickly mobilised to
treat with the growing cyber-threats being
faced. Similar groups exist in other regions
around the world where NOGs fill a very
important role in the cybersecurity landscape.
These volunteer communities of technical
specialists, security experts, software engineers
and tech enthusiasts provide an important
forum for relationship building, knowledge
sharing, skill development and global net-
Sharing for the greater good
CaribNOG will be holding only its sixth
Regional Gathering in Belize later this month.
Since its launch in 2010, it has already seen
more than 500 individuals pass through its
training programmes and workshops. More
importantly, it has connected the previously
disconnected group of computer professionals
in the Caribbean and plugged them into the
global technical community.
"The fact that I can now easily call upon
technical expertise from around the region
and the world has been a direct benefit of my
participation in CaribNOG," Brent McIntosh,
country manager for Columbus St Vincent
and the Grenadines.
"The CaribNOG forum has not only helped
personally and professionally, it has completely
transformed how we approach technical prob-
lem-solving at the national level."
At a recent gathering of CaribNOG in Bar-
bados, McIntosh shared some of the work of
his team in setting up the Internet Exchange
Point in Grenada. Next he plans to use knowl-
edge gain at CaribNOG to help establish a
Computer Security Incident Response Teams
(CSIRTs) in Grenada that can use Internet
traffic statistics from the IXP to help ISPs
coordinate their response to threats to the
Grenadian computer networks.
The Caribbean s cybersecurity movement
is certainly gaining momentum. National
CSIRTs, IXP proliferation, Internet infrastruc-
ture strengthening, regional cybersecurity
groups, and local and regional public awareness
initiatives are certainly having a positive impact.
But there is still a lot to do, and every computer
user can play a part.
The key is to realise the value of a coordi-
nated regional approach to tackling local cyber-
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge
officer of Congress WBN (www.congress-
wbn.org), a values-based international non-
profit. He is also executive director of Bright-
Path Foundation, an education-technology
Reach him on Twitter @bevilwooding or on
facebook.com/bevilwooding or contact via
e-mail at technologymatters@brightpath-
Tackling cybersecurity threats
Co-ordinating regional response to safeguard local networks
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