Caribbean faces Cyber flaws

OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin.
AP Photo

As the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development (IDB) concluded a regional workshop here on cyber security, the OAS says cyber vulnerabilities continue to affect a “wide range of targets” in the Caribbean.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin said while member-states are “ever-more familiar with cyber security threats, this awareness hasn’t stopped cyber vulnerabilities from continuing to affect a wide range of targets in the region.”

Speaking on Friday at the conclusion of the three-day workshop, Ramdin warned that cyber-attacks have “threatened to derail electoral voting processes in several OAS member states, putting into peril democratic institutions that underpin their political systems.

“Cyber-attacks have affected or will affect all countries at some point in time, regardless of size, politics, or economy,” he said, underscoring the importance of the event.

“Along with the support of the IDB, we can plot the technical and political course the OAS will need to ensure that member states have at their disposal the best cyber security training assistance available.”

The OAS said the “Regional Workshop on Cyber Security Policies” brought together officials from 28 OAS member-states as well as experts from Europe and the Asia Pacific region to discuss priorities and a regional cyber security agenda for the Americas, including the Caribbean.

The workshop aimed to promote and exchange lessons learned, best practices, challenges, commonalities, and the different approaches countries and sectors have used in the development and implementation of national cyber security policies and strategies, the OAS said.

It said the workshop was geared towards fostering a global dialogue and multi-sectoral partnerships, with attendees from government, the private sector, civil society and academic stakeholders.

On behalf of the government of Canada, the main contributor to the OAS Cyber Security Program, Robert Gordon, the Special Cyber Security Advisor in Public Safety Canada, highlighted the continued financial investments of the Canadian Government on Cyber Security in the hemisphere through the OAS.

Mentioning that the OAS had developed a successful model for regional integration and cyber capacity building, he also lauded the efforts of member state governments to draft and adopt national cyber security strategies, like Canada did in 2011.

As part of their cooperation on the issue, the OAS and the IDB have committed to prepare a report titled “The State of Cybersecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

During the workshop, the OAS said it sought feedback from member-state officials and other experts in an effort to ensure the study would present a comprehensive analysis of the state of cyber security in Latin America and the Caribbean, and how countries are prepared to protect their critical infrastructure against cyber threats.

The first day and a half of the event consisted of panel discussions and aimed to provide a baseline understanding to all participants, the OAS said.

In the working group discussions, the OAS said participants were tasked with defining some of the critical cyber policy and development needs to be addressed in the Americas.

Of the working group sessions and proposed outcomes of the event, the OAS Secretary of Multidimensional Security, Adam Blackwell highlighted the commitment of the OAS to foster work with all stakeholders from the public and private sectors and civil society.

“Starting with the 2004 Comprehensive Inter-American Cyber Security Strategy, we have built an environment that incorporates all the actors in the cyber security ecosystem, which is as diverse as it is large,” he said.

“Cyber security threats continue to grow unabated and continue to adapt to governments’ attempts to confront them,” the OAS said in a statement.

“This has necessitated that the OAS react to and anticipate new threats to member states, which it has been doing since 2004,” it added.

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