Jamaica raises the bar amid hackers’ view of Caribbean as soft target Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jamaica is being lauded by a senior manager in the technology consulting cyber security area at Ernst and Young (EY) for setting the example with the establishment of the Data Protection Act, which, he argued, is a great start in raising the bar on reporting breaches.

James Bynoe, however, reasoned that the rest of the region has to follow suit if they are serious about cyber security.

The Data Protection Act provides individuals with rights, including the right to know what information is held about them and the right to access that information. It states that anyone who processes personal information must comply with the principles in the Act.

“Jamaica right now is one of the first to the have a data privacy Act, which is a great start which raises the bar on reporting breaches. So, Jamaica is making some great strides in that area.

“But, a lot of other Caribbean countries are still behind in that; and we are running out of time. It doesn’t take very long to scan all of Jamaica or all of Barbados to find weaknesses facing the world; it’s not rocket science, so hackers view the Caribbean as a soft target for those reasons.”

He was speaking to Loop News after participating in a panel discussion on the topic: Are You at Risk? Cybersecurity in an increasingly digital world at the EY Caribbean’s Strategic Growth Forum on Thursday at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall ballroom in St James.

The former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) senior cyber security programme manager urged companies in the region to take cyber security seriously.

“The cyber threat is no longer an IT problem, it’s a company problem, it’s a revenue protection problem, it’s a business protection problem. And, because of that, top leadership within organisations have to take it seriously.

“Number two, we are 10 to 15 years behind in laws and legislations requiring companies to report when they are breached. So there are lots of companies in the Caribbean that have been compromised and breached that never report it,” he said. “So we don’t have a full stance of the impact across the region.”

Bynoe underscored that with artificial intelligence now gathering steam, cyber criminals are also very well funded, highly educated people who are also looking to leverage the advantage of AI to help provide information more rapidly. 

“So they are using AI now to strengthen a number of their attacks,” he said. “So we can expect that it is going to take the sophistication of attacks to a completely different level.”

He also highlighted that on a number of occasions, data that companies share with third parties are not secured as expected.

“A number of the breaches in the world that we have seen, records have been lost all because a third party business didn’t manage the information properly.

“We call it vendor security. So we need to be accessing, reviewing and analysing your third parties on a regular, ongoing basis to make sure that they are saving the information that you are giving them with the same level of importance, which often does not happen,” he stated. 

He added: “The other thing I would say is when breaches occur in an organisation where a third party is involved, very often it is the primary company that gets the hit. It’s the primary company that’s in the news, not the third party. So that’s an existential threat.”

Bynoe argued that if a regional client loses information for a European company that it is doing business with, the European company stands to be fined four per cent of it’s global revenue.

“What will happen if we don’t get our cyber security acts in order? They will pull the business out of the Caribbean and push it in some other region where they feel more secured,” he cautioned.

“So we have to take this seriously. We have got to demonstrate that we understand the importance of cyber, and we demonstrate that we understand the importance of protecting people data,” he added. Maria Daniel, partner, strategy, and transactions at Ernst & Young Services Limited, explained that the Strategic Growth Forum boasts the most prestigious gathering of CEOs, high-growth entrepreneurs, C-suite executives representing global market leaders, and professional investment fund managers.

These authors of the future convene for inspiring keynotes, thought-provoking panels, one-to-one meetings, and limitless, high-value networking to fuel economic growth.