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Guyana strengthening cyber security against hackers, fraudsters

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan addressing the opening of the National Cyber Security Sensitisation Workshop.

Guyana is moving to insulate a number of loopholes and so drastically reduce the possibility of cybercrimes ranging from website hacking to fraud, officials said Wednesday.

Experts are being trained in cybercrimes legislation and enforcement while plans are on the drawing board to enact several laws related to cyber security.

Cyber Security attacks on websites such as defacement and other types of crimes can be reported to the Guyana National Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) located at http://www.cirt.gy/

Head of CIRT, Sandra Khan told Demerara Waves Online News that the National Cyber Security Sensitisation Workshop, being held Wednesday and Thursday in collaboration with the Organisation of American States (OAS), will examine Guyana’s legal framework and the need to develop a national strategy. The CIRT boss strongly believes that a National Task Force should be established to examine the current status and map the way forward on cyber security.

Khan said already legal experts are being trained, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) probes cyber crimes reports and there is CIRT. “All of this is disintegrated but we need to bring it together, give it the momentum and coordinate it and organise it in a strategic way and then develop a plan,” she said.

CIRT is currently not governed by legislation and was created by Cabinet approval.

OAS Representative in Guyana, Jean Ricot Dormeus urges that efforts be made to boost cyber security mechanisms as Guyana moves increasingly in the direction of E-Governance. “As the country develops its economy and pursues the modernisation of public service, this workshop comes as an excellent catalyst and a progress enhancer,” he said.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan announced that three staff members of the Ministry of Legal Affairs are currently in the United States attending an American-sponsored Cyber Crime legislation workshop.

He told the opening session of the workshop that in addition to public awareness and training, cyber security should be taught in primary and secondary schools.

According to a report on Latin American and Caribbean Cyber Security Trends published in June, 2014 states that Guyana has made several noteworthy advances on the cybersecurity  front, the main one being the establishment of CIRT in August 2013 as the “designated as the authority responsible for managing cyber incidents at the national level.”

The report notes that Guyana was expected to formulate a policy framework for addressing cybersecurity in a more strategic, comprehensive, and pro-active manner and engage in an aggressive public awareness campaign.

CIRT, according to the report, was also expected to make mandatory reporting by government agencies to promote more effective cybersecurity administration and the gathering of accurate and detailed statistics on cyber incidents.

In relation to the private sector, the report notes that “There is no legal requirement for private sector entities to report cyber incidents to the government, although national authorities consider it a high priority to work in partnership with the private sector to support improvements in cybersecurity.

The Latin American and Caribbean Cyber Security Trends report states that since GNCIRT’s creation in August 2013, the country has experienced numerous cybersecurity incidents ranging from the defacement of government websites to credit card fraud to the defrauding of a prominent businessman.

Although authorities do not have hard data indicating a quantitative increase or decrease in the number of incidents, the report states there has been a clear rise in the number of incidents reported by the public.

The report recalls that in February 2013, there was another high profile incident in which ten websites, including seven websites of the Government of Guyana, were defaced by international hackers who later touted their exploits on their Facebook pages and on hacker websites. In the case of the second incident, GNCIRT was able to coordinate with and support the other affected government agencies as well as the local private hosting company, and provided daily situational analysis to the government minister with responsibility for national security.