Greater Investment Needed In Caribbean Cybersecurity in 2019

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent. December 12, 2018—As cybersecurity threats increase, governments, regulators and companies will need to invest more in cybersecurity in order to protect consumers and secure their own interests.

This was the view expressed by Bevil Wooding, an Internet expert, and keynote speaker at the second annual cybersecurity forum in St Vincent and the Grenadines last week. The event was organised by the St Vincent chapter of the Internet Society, in collaboration with the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). 

Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Liaison, American Registry for Internet Numbers; Roxanne John, acting Senior Projects Officer, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, St. Vincent; and Shernon Osepa, Manager, Regional Affairs for Latin America and The Caribbean Bureau, The Internet Society, at the at the Second St Vincent and the Grenadines Cybersecurity Symposium, held in Kingstown, St Vincent on December 12, 2018.

Cybersecurity breaches have commanded headlines since the early days of the Internet, but in recent times the sheer scale and devastating consequence of malicious cyber-attacks is catching the attention of business and government leaders as well as ordinary consumers in the Caribbean. 

2018 saw cyber incidents that not only affected millions around the world, but also caused disruption and costly consequence to organizations in the region. Banks, insurers, hotel operators, and businesses large and small were impacted by cybersecurity breaches in the past year. Even government networks were not immune.

“As cybersecurity threats continue to escalate, we can expect that computer network owners and consumers will demand better cybersecurity protections. This will require companies to outlay increasing capital to secure their business networks and the confidence of their customers and partners,” said Wooding, ARIN’s Caribbean Outreach Liaison.

Although cybersecurity is a challenge, Wooding believes it also offers an opportunity for innovative companies, entrepreneurs and academic institutions to develop skills, tools and services that help organisations protect themselves against threats. 

“We must have the ability to trust the Internet and this comes with us feeling that the Internet is secured. Hence, we need to defend the Internet economy since it has become very important part of our lives and business, whether we are consumers or government,” said Roxanne John, co-organiser of the event and acting Senior Projects Officer at the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology in St Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The forum brought together representatives from the technical community, private sector, academia and government to discuss how the changing Internet economy is impacting the Caribbean. 

“Cybersecurity readiness and compliance can no longer be ignored. Organisations and individuals that plan ahead for threats in the digitally connected environment will have a clear advantage,” said Shernon Osepa, Manager of Regional Affairs for the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau of the Internet Society, and a feature speaker at the event.

The forum included expert presentations and roundtable discussions but had at least one clear message: investing time and resources into a strong, Caribbean cybersecurity strategy will be an investment well made.