Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Wheatley: Gov't places strong emphasis on cybersecurity

Published:Thursday | October 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Dr Andrew Wheatley (right), minister of science, energy and technology, in discussion with Dr Louis Shallal, government chief information officer, during the Cyber Security Awareness Month function at the Police Officers’ Club, St Andrew yesterday.

The Government is paying strict attention to potential cybersecurity threats posed to Jamaica's banking, industrial, and economic sectors, said Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of science, energy and technology, at a function yesterday at the Police Officers' Club in observance of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

He asserted that with the increase in cybercrimes, it was critical that even as the Government continues the strengthening of its eGov systems, that the necessary security checks be put in place.

Wheatley said that there is routine review of the Cybercrimes Act to ensure that it remains current, while looking ahead to potential threats.

"We have put in place several pieces of legislation to support and offer protection, and this includes the recently tabled Data Protection Bill, which speaks to how one treats someone's personal information and data," Wheatley stated.

"If you are a bank or some other entity, even a government agency, and you have in your care someone's personal data, then you have a responsibility in how you treat it, and there are, of course, penalties if one should breach that trust."

Noting the ongoing education and awareness programmes that are engineered to give the public a sense of confidence in the Government's own websites, as well as additional measures to stop cybercrimes affecting Jamaican entities, he said, "Government websites are safe for use, and it is something we have been taking even more seriously over the last four months to ensure that the level of security is at an acceptable standard."


Responsibility lies with users


Wheatley added, however, that "irrespective of what website one uses, the responsibility still lies with the user to make sure the sites being engaged are genuine as there are a whole lot of clone sites out there that seek to extract information and use it in a manner that one would not want to see their information being used".

According to data, over two billion accounts have been compromised in the last year due to cybercrimes, amounting to over US$15 million in losses, with large international firms such as Equifax, Yahoo, Target, and Sony made to suffer.

Locally, there was a credit card security breach at First Caribbean, and Lasco reported a case of cybertheft. This places into context a report from KPMG, which showed that only 20 per cent of Jamaican businesses paid close attention to cybersecurity.