Caribbean Governments cannot contain cyber threats single handedly for several reasons. There is need for capacity building and overall public sector awareness, most governments do not have a centralised focus on risk and contingency planning and hence issues associated with cyber security are not prioritised, and overall there is no security programme plan to increase network visibility and control.
In a recent article published in the St. Maarten Daily Herald, Martin Van Nes, an in-depth specialist in combatting cybercrime for the Dutch Caribbean, said cybercrime deserves more attention. “There is insufficient awareness about cybercrime among residents, within the business community, and in Government. There is an increased threat of cyber-attacks and cyber-security should be stepped up,” he said.
Without a dedicated and planned approach we certainly can predict that the national security, public safety and the economic development of our Caribbean governments will be compromised in a time when most islands are facing hard economic times. Choosing to wait and see what happens is not an option. The Panama Papers, the $150M cyber robbery from a Jamaican bank, reports of Isis hijacking regional websites, customers locally and regionally being hit with ransomware attacks are all indicators that we need to adopt a different approach.
It is clear that the Caribbean government are easy targets for several reasons but there is hope. Governments need to implement a Contingency plan that looks at the impact of cyber breaches on national infrastructure. The Caribbean Cyber Security Center (CCSC) has developed such a team to support Caribbean governments in gaining independent validation and verification assessment and guidance to an improved security posture with reduced risks of exploitation.
Without expert collaboration from a team like the CCSC and others, regional governments reduce their ability to respond to cyber threats and will be expose to greater risks online, as perpetrators learn to exploit national and regional information and communication technology weaknesses within the Caribbean one-by-one.
The Government of St. Maarten has taken the proactive approach to tighten up the IT security which has lead to some public sector officers complaining of the restricted access at work. This move was and is necessary to ensure there is greater controlled access to IT systems which hold national security and personal information of the country. Phase two which will occur very soon will be an upcoming conference on cyber security with the goal of having all stakeholders within St. Maarten present to raise the level of awareness.
The conference will be held in collaboration with the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten, the Public Prosecutors Office, the Caribbean Cyber Security Center and other national stakeholders. Additionally, a draft national security action plan will be developed which will be used as a guide for private and public sector organization to ensure the relevant level of security controls are in place to protect systems from digital pirates.
Expose Students To Technology Early, IDB Rep Tells Jamaica
Country representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Therese Turner-Jones, says students need to be introduced to emerging technologies at a much younger age if Jamaica hopes to bridge the knowledge gap that now exists between itself and the rest of the world.“It's not okay to say we are better than Trinidad. So what? We want to be better than Finland, which gets the best result in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That's where we have to take the mindset of education,” Turner-Jones insisted last week at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
The IDB country representative was part of a team of stakeholders discussing the education of boys as it relates to the launch the British Council's Boys in Education Week.
“What we are learning about where work is going to be in the next century is not what we are teaching right now — (such as) manufacturing that doesn't involve human beings, agriculture that can be grown in buildings, not on farms — so when you hear about what technology is doing in the rest of the world… Jamaica and the Caribbean are using technology to a little extent, but not to the extent to which we need to be using it. So there is a huge gap in our knowledge base, so it has to start really early,” she said.
“We have to take this subject of education way beyond what our minds can imagine that our kids are going to need to know to function within the next 30 years. The technology is already there; we are way behind. You cannot put kids behind a desk with a chalkboard and talk to them like they are imbeciles… from 18 months old kids are now programming, and we put them in the classroom and are teaching in a way that is sort of arcane,” Turner-Jones stated.
She argued that the Caribbean should focus on fitting into a world that is “all technology”, positing: “If it means we don't need human beings to produce things anymore, we shouldn't be teaching kids multiple timetables — we have calculators to do that, we have algorithms that can solve problems. There are other things we ought to be doing to make sure the brains of our kids are developed to their maximum potential.”
Turner-Jones noted that according to official data, only 30 per cent of students leaving high school qualify to enter tertiary-level institutions. “So they can't get into UWI (University of the West Indies), UTech (the University of Technology), or any of our tertiary institutions because they don't have the credentials. Basically, they have failed high school. Seventy per cent of all the kids in Jamaican high schools face this dilemma — I call it a crisis,” she said.
She said policymakers and other players must seek to improve these outcomes by enhancing teacher quality, the curriculum, and other areas, but that solutions need to be implemented for the stock of people who already cannot take up jobs because they are not qualified.
Commenting on the continued under performance of boys in the education system, Turner-Jones noted that traditionally, STEM attracts more male than female students, but said: “I think that there is something about the way we are teaching kids early on that is not quite teaching the boys.”
At the same time, Turner-Jones said that for better outcomes, it is best to make comparisons with the rest of the world in the testing of students' knowledge and skills when they are measured at an older age, such as 15 for example, rather than at age 11.
The inaugural Boy’s in Education Week ended with a boy’s app development hackathon at UTech. The week was organised by the British Council with support from the IDB. The British Council is a cultural relations organisation that works to promote knowledge sharing and understanding between Jamaica and the United Kingdom, and the rest of the Caribbean.
Participants in the sessions, which was aimed at promoting sustainable solutions to address the current challenges of boys in education, included the Ministry of Education, parents, teachers, and international experts.
EThink Education Is Looking To Expand In The Caribbean and Nigeria
After an agreement that helped it expand in the U.S. last year, eThink Education is moving into the Caribbean and Nigeria.
The Betamore-based edtech company provides hosting and services for Moodle, an open-source education platform. The company recently became a certified Moodle partner for the two international areas. eThink is the first and only company with that status in those regions. “It’s a big step forward,” said CEO Brian Carlson.
Moodle is a platform that helps schools, colleges and even companies organize learning materials online.
“Where we come in as a provider of services is that we’re bringing them a number of different strategies as well as technology to help them radically expand the footprint of how they’re using a digital learning platform to make learning more efficient,” Carlson said.
The company identified the two regions for growth, and partnership status was officially reviewed and granted by Moodle’s headquarters in Australia. In the U.S., most schools already have a learning management system. The adoption is not as wide in the Caribbean and Nigeria, Carlson said. In the Caribbean, eThink is seeking to help colleges more easily share course materials and collaborate through a learning network.
Over the last six months, Carlson said the company is also seeing growth with corporate clients. Companies seek to use Moodle when organizing onboarding of employees, as well as ongoing training.