Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Use strong passwords and think before you click, technology minister warns

Published:Friday | December 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of energy, science and technology.

Minister of Energy Science, and Technology Andrew Wheatley is urging that while Jamaicans celebrate important revolutions in technology, they should be more mindful of the various threats constantly posed by cybercriminals from around the world.

Wheatley, addressing the recent Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication's fourth National Conference, announced that a new data-protection bill to be tabled in Parliament next year will be a major tool in protecting the identities of Jamaicans using digital platforms.

"As we embrace technology, as we embrace ICT (information and communication technology), we recognise that it is important that the data protection bill be tabled in Parliament," Wheatley said during the conference held at the University of the West Indies' Regional Office in St Andrew.

"It is coming next year. We are just tidying up that piece of legislation. We have to protect the identity of our citizens."

He added: "While we celebrate the revolutions in technology, we must be mindful of the cybersecurity issues which have been and will continue to surface as we interface with technology and with a wider network."


In today's world, users of technology are vulnerable in the sense that there are greater possibilities of being hacked, having their network security breached, their identities stolen or being cyberbullied, among many other infringements.

"I want to encourage all Jamaicans to take the necessary steps while we move more into utilising ICTs. Take the necessary preventative measures to ensure that while we surf the Internet, we also protect ourselves. Use strong passwords, think before you click, and be aware of online offers or emails asking for personal information," Wheatley said, describing the precautions that must be taken if Jamaica is to push the agenda of incorporating ICTs into everyday life.

Regarding suspicious emails, Wheatley shared one of his recent encounters.

"It was (recently) I got an email saying that a person had a distant uncle. The uncle died and the uncle doesn't have any other relatives apart from him. The person said what they need from me is some account information. They are thanking me for the opportunity to help them to get some money and they are going to reward me by giving me some of the money and all they need is some information to give to the bank in London. I just clicked delete because there is a saying in Jamaica, 'If you never put down nutn, don't look fi nutn,'" said Wheatley.

"We have to look for those kinds of things."