A Cyber-Safe Region

JUST how serious a threat the Caribbean faces with respect to cyber-crimes and what are authorities doing to prevent the hackers having their way with us?

That’s the subject of a three-day meeting of Commonwealth ministers, policymakers and cyber-security experts being held in Saint Lucia this week. The meeting was called in light of the rising rate of cyber-crimes affecting the region.

Among the meeting’s objectives is to provide a platform for participants to address the challenges and develop a coordinated regional action plan to prevent cyber-crime and improve cyber-security.

Sometimes the big hauls that cyber-crimes have netted in the Caribbean include the theft of US$150 million from the Bank of Nova Scotia in Jamaica two years ago. Last year, people claiming to have affiliations with terror group, ISIS, hacked government websites. The cyber threat is real and costly.

This week’s meeting in Saint Lucia began just a day after the Governor of Bangladesh’s Central Bank resigned after hackers allegedly stole $81 million of the government’s money from a U.S. account. Reports are that the former governor, AtiurRahman, failed to inform the finance minister that the hefty cyber-heist had occurred.

Reports are that the hackers in the Bangladesh heist accessed the bank’s computer systems and stole crucial information needed to effect the massive heist. More reason why we need to stay ahead of the criminals.

With increased technology, criminals seem more equipped and motivated to undertake bolder methods of criminality. Scams and schemes are aplenty these days, especially when people are being urged to put a few dollars away safely in a bank for posterity.

That is why it is so important that commercial banks, government institutions and other businesses continue stepping up their security protocols to ensure that not only are people’s personal finances safe and secure but their personal information as well.

Imagine showing up at a local bank to make a withdrawal tomorrow and being told that your account has a zero balance when you would have been adding thousands of dollars to that account over a period of time.

From the earliest James Bond movies, the Caribbean has always been seen as a playground where international criminals and organizations have felt comfortable enough to stash away their ill-gotten spoils and live large. In today’s Caribbean, however, the new trend seems to be people doing their best to attack our institutions that offer an easy pass to them.

Whatever the outcome of this week’s meeting to tackle the escalating cyber-crime in the region, the hope is that whatever approach is adopted is relevant, up-to-date and impenetrable to those eager to get their hands on what our hands worked hard to achieve.

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