BARBADOS IS NOT READY for a Cyber-Attack and They're Not Alone
BARBADOS IS NOT READY for a cyber attack. Neither are any of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, is the clear warning being given to the Region. The Inter-American Development Bank, Organisation of American States and Oxford University produced The 2016 cyber-security Report entitled, Are We Ready In Latin America
And The Caribbean?
They concluded that the region is highly vulnerable to potentially devastating cyber-attacks. According to the report, four out of every five countries in the region do not have a cyber-security strategy or plans for protecting critical infrastructure; two out of three countries do not have a command and control centre for cyber-security; and a large majority of prosecutors lack the capacity to punish cyber-crimes.
As a result of these findings the IDB and OAS called on the Latin America and the Caribbean to step up their efforts on cyber-security. The report noted that over the last several years, Barbados has taken initial steps to strengthen national cyber-security. It pointed out that three years ago, the Barbados Government’s Telecommunications Unit signed an agreement with the International Telecommunications Unit (ITU) to establish a national Computer Security Incident Response Team.
Caribbean Nations Sign off on Cyber Crime Action Plan
On the heals of the IDB & OAS Report, and following a recent five day regional summit on Cyber-Security in St. Lucia, regional governments have identified the following priority areas in a Cyber-security action plan which include training, legislation, technical capacity and law enforcement.
Caribbean countries have signed off on a plan of action to strengthen regional co-operation and help governments address cyber security vulnerabilities.
The move is an acknowledgement that cyber-attacks are up in the region even as few cases are reported and addressed because of resource shortages and perceived reputational damage.
The plan calls on governments to “foster a culture of security," establish a regional network to gather electronic criminal evidence,
and mount regular exercises known as "cyber drills" to prepare for digital attacks.
BVI Telecoms Minister blasts Telecoms Regulator, and defends CCT
In the BVI, Minister responsible for the telecoms industry Mark Vanterpool yesterday launched a public broadside against the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), warning that the government will not allow the Commission to overlook the locally owned CCT Global Communications in relation to the allocation of the 700 MHz spectrum, which is necessary to facilitate much faster wireless internet through what is commonly known as 4G LTE.
He also indicated that he does not support what he said is the TRC’s plan to appeal a Supreme Court case it lost recently in its ‘spectrum’ battle with CCT.
The telecoms regulator had sought to block CCT from the spectrum awards process after the provider allegedly failed to meet certain requirements. But the court ruled against that position.
Minister Vanterpool went as far as to remind the telecoms regulator that, despite its efforts to block CCT from being awarded a slot on the spectrum, it is the government that owns the spectrum.
“I must remind them publicly here that the spectrum of this territory belongs to the government of this territory and the people. Therefore, we want to make sure that the people of this territory benefit, and therefore our local telecommunications company CCT must not be shut out on simple technicalities.”
PitchIT Caribbean Competition Open
PitchIT, a Canadian-Government funded programme concerned with mobile app development in the Caribbean, will host the region’s biggest tech entrepreneurship competition on June 3-4 in Montego Bay.
Registration for the competition is now open and will close on April 15th. Designed for ‘techprenuers’ in the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the two-day event is expected to feature 25 mobile app start-up teams who will pitch to a panel of judges and an audience of regional and global investors.
Five winners will each be awarded a coveted spot in PitchIT Caribbean business accelerators located in Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as US$5,000 in seed funding to develop their business. Business acceleration includes expert business and technology mentoring, network opportunities, working space and facilities, expense-paid trips to international conferences and competitions, intense product development and investor readiness training.
“At PitchIT Caribbean we are very focused on identifying, engaging and developing top tech talent across Caricom and this competition is one of our major activities toward that objective. So we want all tech entrepreneurs to sign up for a chance to give their start-up a big boost,” explained Keith Whyte, acting project manager, PitchIT Caribbean.
Tech entrepreneurs can sign up for the competition at http://challenge.pitchitcaribbean.com and completing the application form along with a pitch deck and an executive summary of their business or business idea.
Digicel Urges Young Smartphone Videographers To Film And Win
In preparation for the observance of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day in May, the 10th Annual World Telecommunication and Information Society Day Video Competition was launched in Jamaica, and Digicel is challenging students from ages 15 to 18 to submit an entry to the Video Competition for a chance to win trip to Puerto Rico, tablets and cash prizes.
Using a smartphone or video camera, each participant must create a three (3) minute video under the theme: "Inspiring ICT Innovations: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem through Sustainable Strategic Partnerships".
Students are encouraged to use their creativity to demonstrate how Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) inspires innovative ideas, products and services; and fosters entrepreneurship by utilizing and encouraging partnerships in their country.
Digicel Head of Public Relations, Elon Parkinson, encouraged interested persons to, "Get creative. Stretch the boundaries of your imagination. Be bold. Be different. But, most of all, do your research and come up with a video that could go viral!"
CDB Supports Drive For Better Data To Boost Caribbean Development
In 2012, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved financing for a collaborative project with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat. The project involved enhancing the capacity of countries in the Region and the OECS Commission to compile and disseminate data on human development.
The Implementation of DevInfo and Strengthening Capacity to Manage for Results project, guides beneficiaries on the effective use of the features of DevInfo, a robust tool that can be used to monitor and report on their progress on Caribbean-specific Millennium Development Goals and other development indicators and targets.
Representatives from statistics agencies in the participating countries gathered in Barbados for the Project’s Midterm Review Meeting, chaired by Edward Greene, Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division. During the opening session Greene noted, “The Midterm Review is important for you as beneficiaries and for CDB, UNICEF and CARICOM as this occasion provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved, what needs to be completed and what needs to be improved.”
“The DevInfo platform that this project is focusing on provides an opportunity to address this emerging agenda that our region is dealing with. The platform is needed now, more than ever, because of the urgency of requirements for data, because of the urgency of requirements for evidence-based decision making,” said Muriel Mafico, Deputy Representative, UNICEF.
“DevInfo will play a very important part in the tracking and dissemination of progress in achievement of SDGs. CDB is committed to this process. We intend to continue to work with our development partners to forge a partnership to track and to implement the Sustainable Development Goals,” added Monica La Bennett, Deputy Director, Corporate Planning, CDB.
Partners encouraged participants to continue making good use of DevInfo to support evidence-based decision making as they work toward achieving development goals.
Underscoring the importance of the timely capture of accurate data Dr. Philomen Harrison, Project Director, Regional Statistics, CARICOM Secretariat, stressed “This software will be as powerful a tool as the data it contains. The success of the project will depend on the combined effort and commitment of the producers of the statistics as well as the users in maintaining the system and in encouraging the use of the system,”
Female Entrepreneurs in St. Lucia to Receive Training in Digital Marketing
At least twenty female entrepreneurs will receive training in Digital Marketing under the Saint Lucian Women & Girls in ICT Campaign, which is a joint initiative of the Saint Lucia Coalition of Services & Industry (SLCSI) and the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) in St. Lucia.
The Women & Girls in ICT Campaign was developed as a means to dismantle barriers preventing equal opportunities for growth and development in ICT. The campaign will result in young girls and women receiving specific support and opportunities to be educated and engaged in ICT tools. The outcome of which is greater empowerment in ICT and the ability to pass on these skills and knowledge to a wider sector of the St. Lucian community.
Entrepreneurs at the training workshop will learn how to boost their ability to engage with customers through social media, increase sales and revenue through their enhanced ability to market their products and services.Digital Marketing involves the promotion of products or services via one or more forms of electronic media and has become one of the most impactful marketing tools for entrepreneurs. Direct Marketing allows entrepreneurs to not only reach a large number of their target audience efficiently but also cost effectively.
According to SLCSI Executive Director Yvonne Agard, training is an early component of the Women and Girls in ICT campaign, the official launch of which is deliberately set for April, the month dedicated to the international observance of Girls in ICT.
ECLAC Highlights the Need for Common Framework to Address e-Government Deployment
The Economic Commission For Latin America And The Caribbean, (ECLAC) says e-government is closely related to the concept of e-governance, which the commonwealth secretariat has defined as governments’ “utilisation of information and communications technology to interact with and provide services to businesses, citizens, and other governments with the intent to improve transparency, increase public service efficiency, and deepen democracy”.
An important goal of e-government systems is to enable bi-directional, engagement, permitting remote interaction between a government and its citizens, government and businesses, and within the government itself.
Examples of such interactions include, enabling the electronic submission of forms for activities such as tax reporting, registration for social services, and applications for licences and permits; orchestration of activities that require coordination across government ministries, departments and agencies, such as budgeting, resource management and project planning functions.
It is here that, ECLAC observed challenges, noting that while the countries of the region are at different stages of development with respect to e-government. The most prominent of the common issues that they are experiencing is the need for a comprehensive framework, encompassing a common set of government-wide standards, protocols, and processes to be followed by the entire public sector, to the extent that common national standards can be aligned together as common regional standards.
The study observed that although Caribbean countries have been working on e-government individually, the common set of issues and challenges faced has led to the adoption of similar software projects. These include the implementation of ASYCUDA, the widespread use of electronic information management systems, and a general movement toward the usage of open source software.
However, there is still much redundancy in implementation, coupled with misalignment in choices of technology, many initiatives could benefit considerably from tighter harmonisation of efforts.
Guyanese Telecoms Company sues GTT and PUC
Caribbean Telecommunications Limited (CTL) is suing the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited (GTT) and the regulatory body, Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for US$281M, claiming that it was deliberately suppressed from expanding its cell services.
The company, filed the lawsuit in late December against the US-owned GTT and the regulator in the Commercial Court. The matter has seen previous court action in both Guyana and the US.
According to court documents, the plaintiff, CTL, in 1996 was granted a 10-year renewable licence to provide cellular radio telephone services, to residents of Guyana, by the Ministry of Public Works and Telecommunication. At the same time, CTL petitioned PUC for the right to provide cell services.
During the time, GTT exercised monopolistic control over entire Guyanese
telephone market, for both landline and cellular service. The PUC approved the rates for CTL by an order in 1997, directing GTT to interconnect with the CTL network for cell service.
Both CTL and GTT entered an agreement for shared fees and interconnection of lines and equipment. CTL, in its Statement of Claims, said it invested millions of dollars for its planned cell service expansion throughout Guyana. While GTT started to cooperate, it restricted the scope of the cell phone company to a “small” and “arbitrary geographically” area.
CTL claimed it lost potential revenues because of GTT’s action in Georgetown,
New Amsterdam, Skeldon and Upper Corentyne. CTL said it wants US$281M ($56.2B) for lost revenues and damages for the period 2000-2013.
FLOW Crackdown on Illegal Content Downloads Spreads Across Region
The crackdown against people accessing illegal television programming content has moved region-wide.
A number of illegal users were knocked out in Barbados last week, joining those in Jamaica, The Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname and a number of islands in the Eastern Caribbean, which have also been de-activated.
Some in the ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, have also been affected by the new tough anti-piracy action.
This is part of the international battle for control of virtual borders where people have been illegally downloading programming content sometimes not for this region.
The American movie streaming company, Netflix, has indicated it will crackdown on people who jump borders to watch its content. Online payment service PayPal has given its support to the content providers and legitimate services by not accepting payment from those infringing intellectual property laws.
People have been using internet-based systems such as VPN (virtual private network) and android boxes with both smart televisions and regular sets to circumvent joining a subscription service like FLOW, Digicel, CBC’s Multi-Choice television or DirecTV.
FLOW has been informing customers across the region, “if you are trying to access content deemed as unauthorised or which violates copyright laws, there have been changes regionally which may affect your access”.
Latin America & The Caribbean Must Improve Their Agricultural Practices To Increase Productivity
As the world's population increases, so too must efficiency in agriculture and food production in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Speaking at a recent meeting of leaders in the Agricultural Sector in Mexico, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Víctor M. Villalobos told attendees of the need to apply good practices, implement knowledge-based methods, make adequate use of technology, and sustainably manage natural resources.
“Fostering agriculture that is based on knowledge and is mindful of planning, innovation and investment, will allow for creating a more competitive agrifood sector,” stated Villalobos.
The meeting was inaugurated by Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, who highlighted that “the main objective is working together for a more productive sector; agricultural planning must focus on making well-founded changes, that are far from inert changes.”
The Director General of IICA also highlighted the importance of applying knowledge in the field in order to increase the productivity of farmlands, improve competition in global markets, and guarantee a fair livelihood for producers, which would in turn discourage youth from migrating from rural to urban areas.
Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre: Leading The Regional Response To Climate Change
Since its inception in 2014, the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) programme has been leading the way in developing a regionally integrated approach to solving the Caribbean’s climate, energy, and resource challenges.
The programme aims to assist Caribbean island states to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change by empowering each territory to create clean technologies and businesses, and strengthening several critical areas.
Chief executive officer, Everton Hanson, said that the Centre is taking an entrepreneurial approach to addressing the issues. “The purpose of this project is to build an entrepreneurial eco system that will foster growth-oriented entrepreneurs and profitable businesses that address climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he said.
So far the bold initiative has met with success, instituting innovative activities in its goal of supporting companies from the nascent stage to an advanced stage of development. This has been accomplished through the staging of boot camps and accelerator programmes, among other activities.
One of its more notable programmes, the proof of concept (PoC) competition held in 2015, invited innovators to present designs and concepts for products which can be transformed into viable businesses.
Over 300 innovators from 13 Caribbean countries applied for grant funding through the competition, with 11 winners being selected. The successful participants, were awarded grants ranging from US$10,000 to $50,000, came from Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St Lucia and Belize.
Commonwealth Ministers Tackle Cybercrime
Commonwealth ministers, policymakers and cyber security experts gathered in St. Lucia this week for a three-day consultation to tackle the rising incidents of cybercrime in the Caribbean.
The Commonwealth Secretariat said that major cybercrimes reported in the region to date include the theft of US$150 million from an international bank in 2014; individuals claiming to be local ISIS supporters hacking government websites in 2015; and, in the same year, hackers infecting tax authorities with ransomware, which prevents users from accessing their systems until demands money have been met.
“We welcome the opportunity to partner again with the Commonwealth Secretariat and advance economic and social development in the region through enabling technology,” said Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU).
The meeting brought together ministers responsible for legal affairs, Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and national security, attorneys general from the Caribbean and international organisations, such as Interpol, The Council of Europe, FBI and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative conducted assessments in five Commonwealth Caribbean countries, namely Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados, which revealed an upsurge in cybercrime.
Cayman Island ISPs Block Copyrighted Content
Customers of FLOW and C3 may find themselves unable to stream movies or access certain content since the internet providers have begun to block some copyrighted content flowing into the Cayman Islands.
C3 confirmed that the block, which came into effect last week, remains in effect. FLOW did not respond to queries from The Cayman Reporter.
Explaining the reasoning behind its decision in a statement, C3 said, “As a licensed content provider, C3 is obligated by the content owners to mitigate any unauthorised use of the content we are legally providing in the market. To this end we are blocking the IP addresses of these pirated content providers. C3 will remain vigilant in blocking future IP addresses conducting these pirate activities.”
In addition to providing internet service, C3 is also a provider of television content services locally. FLOW is also a provider of both internet and television content services in the local market.
Sandra Hill, founder of RoCay – a company that provides internet TV using the Roku online streaming device, has been vocal about her strong disagreement with the move taken by some local internet providers.
“Consumers should be alarmed. What if next week they decided to block Netflix or something else they deem to be inappropriate. The bottom line is it’s not illegal in this jurisdiction so what remit do they believe they have?” she asked. “Furthermore, how can a telecom company decide to implement a law that IF it existed would be for the government agency to enforce or the company whose rights are supposedly breached? It is an extreme case of overreaching.”
More backing needed for tech developers
Financial Institutions in Barbados need to be a bit less conservative, and make a bigger investment in new technologies and younger people, particularly those with a keen interest in entrepreneurship.
That was the opinion of Barbados Industry Minister, Donville Inniss, expressed while speaking at the launch of PitchIT Caribbean, an initiative to support growth-oriented mobile app businesses throughout the Caribbean.
The Minister stressed that more faith must be placed in our fellow Barbadians, and noted that sometimes that faith must be manifested through our financing. “I note that today it is not just the traditional commercial banks that we can look to; they are the angel investors and those serial investors who are prepared to take your projects and look at it and invest their money.
Of course, you have to share a bit of the profits with them going forward. Human capital markets and of course institutional infrastructural support is all necessary for us to move the sector forward,” he maintained.
Barbados wants to be Among top 10 Countries Globally, for Internet Services
Barbados Minister of Telecommunications Darcy Boyce on Wednesday called on internet service providers to ensure that the island is among the top 10 countries in the world for internet service.
Minister, Darcy Boyce, speaking at the launch of the Barbados Internet Exchange noted that while Barbados was ranked quite high worldwide in terms of the quality of its telecommunications, “I would want us to be up there with the very best of the competition and I make this very clear to the carriers when I meet with them”.
He told the representatives of the carriers attending the launch – ACE Communications, Digicel, Flow and Wi-Net – that with the launch of the internet exchange, there should be some reduction in costs and he wanted to see part of that reduction transferred to their customers.
Boyce also urged the Internet providers to improve on their services in respect of quality issues. “I would like to hear that there are fewer dropped calls, I would like to know that the clarity of transmission is crystal clear when you make calls.”