Jamaica Joins Global Battle Against Cyber Crime
By Dialogo July 15, 2013
The Jamaican government has established a Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) to safeguard the country’s intellectual property and protect its 2.7 million citizens against increasingly common incidents of Internet fraud.
Julian Robinson, Jamaica’s minister of science, technology, energy and mining, said that CERT should be up and running by December. The goal is to “accelerate technology and stimulate the local software economy through skills and professional training, including partnerships and innovation,” he said.
Key to the new program is a planned IT academy supported by the University of the West Indies and Microsoft, which will lend 12 employees to serve as the core of a supporting staff.
Robinson said CERT aims to develop alternative proprietary software products — which will not only slash the cost of procuring and managing expensive software licenses but also frustrate would-be hackers, who work best with off-the-shelf products.
CERT, he said, will “coordinate Jamaica’s response to threats and serve as a trusted national point of contact for cyber threat identification, defense coordination and management.”
Like the United States and Great Britain, he said, the Jamaican government has decided to hire a chosen bunch of “ethical hackers” as a key element to resist cybercrimes.
These ethical hackers — unlike their counterparts in the cyber black market — will be allowed to attack, or run what is called an “exploit” on Jamaica’s security system with the government’s permission. Their aim is to ferret out the very weaknesses that a hacker could use to break into vital data.
Robinson said that not all hackers who regarded themselves as “ethical” have sterling motives. “We know those who are genuinely trying to assist and we are working with those, but you have another category of folks who do it for financial gain,” he said.
The need for action is urgent, he warned. At least 229 websites belonging to government entities, institutions and the private sector were hacked last year, according to Jamaica’s Communication Forensics and Cybercrime Unit. In February, four state entities including the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s Department, Court Management Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions were hacked.
“Given the critical nature of the data they have, this can prove a threat to national security,” said a ministry spokesman. “We also have institutions like the Electoral Office of Jamaica which have data on every single elector, not just names and address but fingerprints and other bio-data. These assets, if derailed, can disrupt national life in a significant way.”