Caribbean Tech Experts Tackle Network Security

CASTRIES, ST LUCIA – It will take a coordinated regional effort to protect Caribbean computer networks from hacker attacks and natural disasters. This was among the key takeaways from the CaribNOG 2nd Regional Meeting in Castries, St. Lucia from 19 to 22 September 2011. Over 100 technology practitioners from more than 10 Caribbean countries gathered for the event, which was held in collaboration with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s Caribbean ICT Roadshow and with the support of the Government of St Lucia.

“A high-impact natural disaster could expose critical weaknesses in our regional technology architecture, with potentially devastating effect. The CaribNOG meeting succeeded in awakening a consciousness of the need for a Caribbean-wide response. This is one of the ways in which CaribNOG is filling a very critical void in the region's technology landscape, by providing a much needed forum for technology practitioners to exchange ideas and experiences,” said CaribNOG Program Director Bevil Wooding.

CaribNOG is a growing community of technology practitioners dedicated to exchanging technical information and experiences related to the management of computer networks and information management systems in the Caribbean region. Their four-day meeting brought together technology experts, professionals and enthusiasts from the United States and the Caribbean.

The high-level discussions at September’s regional meeting sought to address critical Caribbean technology challenges and to collaboratively derive relevant solutions. The meeting also provided fertile ground for high-tech discussions about securing and strengthening corporate and government networks, economic considerations for establishing Caribbean Internet Exchange Points and hands-on training for building out voice-over-IP (VoIP) networks.

Wooding, an Internet Strategist with US-research firm Packet Clearing House (PCH), is a founding member of CaribNOG.

He said, “We are extremely grateful for the strong support we have received from regional and international organizations.  The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) has been a strong and consistent ally from CaribNOG’s inception.  The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) along with the Geneva-based Internet Society (ISOC) play a key role in the staging of CaribNOG events.”

Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer at ARIN, was one of the expert speakers at the event. He shared ARIN's experience in deploying the new network protocol known as IPv6. He also presented on DNS and DNSSEC, technologies being used to secure information on the Internet.

According to Kosters, “We were impressed with the quality of the discussions and with the enthusiasm of the participants, particularly in the hands-on labs we ran. This CaribNOG event ranks among the best Network Operator Group forums we’ve seen anywhere in the world.”

Stephen Lee, spokesman for CaribNOG said, “We were extremely pleased with the turnout and with the quality of the presentations and interactions throughout the meeting. It is vital that those responsible for managing computer systems in the region have a forum where they can collaborate and share common experiences.”

Lee explained that CaribNOG collaborates with the regional and international organisations and stakeholders to facilitate capacity building and professional networking activities.

The St Lucia event included CaribNOG’s inaugural Fellowship Programme. ISOC and CTU sponsored the first batch of CaribNOG Fellows. The first CaribNOG Fellows were undergraduate and postgraduate students drawn from Barbados, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport and Public Utilities, Mrs. Allison Jean, stated, “St Lucia was pleased to host the important regional event.  This calibre of training would normally only be available overseas and at a tremendous cost. We are grateful that the CaribNOG organisers choose St Lucia to stage this event and we applaud Mr Wooding and his team for their dedication and sacrifice in making this program available to the entire Caribbean region.”

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