Turks and Caicos encouraged to develop cyber security strategy

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Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Manager, American Registry for Internet Numbers

By Gerard Best

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) has been urged to strengthen its cyber security systems, in light of the country’s plans to invest more in the digital economy.

The call came from Bevil Wooding, Caribbean outreach liaison for the American Registry for Internet Numbers. Wooding was the feature speaker at an event in Providenciales, hosted by the Turks and Caicos Islands Telecommunications Commission, and attended by more than 50 representatives from the government, private sector and the country’s internet service providers.

“Cybersecurity is a major challenge for computer network operators across the Caribbean,” Wooding said. His presentation underscored the susceptibility of Caribbean countries to cyber attacks.

“The increasingly frequent headlines about data breaches, network attacks and computer viruses are not restricted to developed countries. Wherever you have computers, businesses or individuals connected to the Internet, there is a risk of attack. The Caribbean is not immune, in fact, the region is often considered a soft target by hackers.”

Wooding explained that limited technical capacity, outdated legislation and the absence of compliance and disclosure polices left many organisations vulnerable to cyber attack. He advised government agencies, companies and internet users in the TCI to take steps to ensure their safety online.

“The onus is on individuals, organisations and companies to educate themselves and take practical steps to secure their data, devices and networks. A cyber breach is more than an inconvenience. It can bring down a company or destroy someone’s reputation,” he said.

“Developing Turks and Caicos cyber security capacity is a top priority as we develop the local digital economy,” said Kenva Williams, acting director general of the TCI Telecommunications Commission.

“Having speakers of Mr Wooding’s calibre address this important issue is one step in our efforts to foster greater national awareness of this important issue,” he added.

Williams shared that the deeper partnerships being developed with Internet organisations like the American Registry for Internet Numbers, the Internet Society and the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) will be important to future efforts to build local capacity.

“The first TCI ICT Roadshow is just an introduction to cybersecurity, targeting members of the government and business community. Future events will also target consumers and students to ensure a national culture of cyber safety is well secured,” Williams said.

In 2018, ARIN established the ARIN Caribbean Forum in collaboration with CaribNOG, to support efforts to strengthen regional capacity to deal with a broad range of Internet development issues including cyber security. Both non-profit organisations have agreed to collaborate with Turks and Caicos to continue education and outreach initiatives throughout 2019.

This story was originally published on Gerard Best’s blog, SightLine.

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