THE ISSUE: Managing use of information must be improved
CONCERN CONTINUES about the state of crime in Barbados and other Caribbean countries. Much of this relates to gun offences and other violent crimes.
There is a view, however, that Barbados and its neighbours might be losing millions of dollars to crime in a more subtle way – over the internet. Cybercrimes also raise major security issues as the experience of the United States and other countries has shown.
Addressing the issue in November last year, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Attorney General, Diane Campbell, said that with Barbados having 123 000 internet subscribers, Government was moving to establish a computer incident response team to assess the readiness and capability of cybersecurity.
She said the team would seek to identify, respond and manage cyberthreats and enhance cybersecurity, complementing other strategies already implemented by government. This included the Computer Misuse Act, and technical training for members of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
“A number of other initiatives are in train, such as the implementation of internationally-recognised cybersecurity standards and the use of public awareness programmes to sensitise children to the joys and dangers of cyberspace,” she said, as she urged the public to be vigilant as part of efforts to protect themselves.
There are some statistics which suggest that Barbados could be vulnerable to cybercrimes. This included information from the International Telecommunication Union showing that 75 per cent of Barbados’ population uses the internet, and the island had more than 307 000 cellular phones.
Two months ago, international accounting and advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released a report which showed the serious impact of cybercrime. It noted that 80 per cent of organisations in the United States suffered cyberattacks, some repeatedly. While it said this number of entities reported that they had detected a security incident in the past year, the problem was that unknown to them there were likely to be victims of other such crimes.
PwC said: “Twenty-fifteen has been a watershed year for cybercrime. Headlines in 2015 make it clear that the threat is increasing, yet much more must be done to stem losses and damages. High profile incidents teach us over and over again that no system is immune – and that speed to identify and respond is of the essence when it comes to combatting cyberthreats and reducing the risk and associated damages.”
In terms of what law enforcement is doing in Barbados, earlier this year, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce said a cybercrime lab would be established.
“We are currently working with an international agency to establish a cyberlab and training centre where we train and perhaps expand our current crime unit,” he said.
Senator Darcy Boyce, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Telecommunications, said while cybercrime was a worry, Government agencies and private entities could do their part to keep these criminals at bay by managing their use of information better.
“As Government departments and private sector businesses interact with many international businesses there needs to be that level of confidence that local partners are engaging in the best and safest information management practices to mitigate many of the risks present in the [information communication technology] landscape,” he said.