Cyber security on the agenda

By Ilia L Likou ,

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Minister of Communication, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i with partners from I.T.U, A.P.N.I.C. and Oxford University.

Minister of Communication, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i with partners from I.T.U, A.P.N.I.C. and Oxford University.

An assessment for the National Computer Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) for Samoa was held at the T.A.T.T.E. yesterday.

The assessment aims to assist Samoa before preparing and implementing a National C.E.R.T.

If implemented, the National C.E.R.T. acts as a tool for Samoa’s cyber security architecture by providing up-to-date and trusted information and advice to help individuals, businesses and organisations prevent cyber incidents, and to help deal with the aftermath if an incident occurs.

In February 2017, the Government of Samoa launched the Samoa National Cybersecurity Strategy 2016-2021 that aims to address cybercrime and criminal activities online.

Within that strategy is the Government’s intention to establish Samoa’s own National C.E.R.T.

Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, said this would help Samoa in so many ways. 

“C.E.R.T. will be a focal point for the collection of reports about cyber security incidents and cybercrime, and provide a safe and secure digital environment for Samoa and its citizens, through coordination and collaboration with stakeholders to detect and manage cyber threats at the national level,” Afamasaga said. 

“It will help us to better understand the active and emerging cyber threats and cybercrime landscape.

“International evidence has shown that for C.E.R.T.s to be at their most effective, they need to operate seamlessly in collaboration with the public and private sectors.

“The C.E.R.T. will assist by working with the major sectors of the economy to ensure they have relevant and targeted information and intelligence about threats, as well as expertise for dealing with them. 

“This information will get to those that need it in real-time. It will also be the point of contact for liaising with C.E.R.T.s in other countries

“It’s a concrete step towards better protecting Samoa against cyber-attacks. 

But none of this will work if it’s left up to the Government alone.”

Partners from International Communication Union, Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre and Oxford University are in the country to share their expertise in assisting Samoa with the establishment of a National C.E.R.T.

Participants from government ministries, private organisations in the country are invited to take part in the one week assessment.

“This is indeed a rare opportunity for Samoa, to have experts of your calibre in the field of cybersecurity and C.E.R.T., to help us and guide us as we take our first tentative steps in this very critical area and sphere,” Afamasaga added.

“We are here today (yesterday) because we are all passionate about Samoa’s economy and about keeping it safe and secure online. 

“This is especially true for me as the Minister for I.C.T.”

He believes cyber incidents and attacks threaten our economy. 

“They can undermine our strategic and competitive advantages especially the confidence of our people and international partners to do business online,” he said.

“As a result, Government takes the protection of our businesses and economy from this growing threat very seriously.

“Businesses, both big and small, also need to accept that cybercrime poses an enormous and immediate risk to their bottom line.”

Afamasaga said everyone needs to be aware cyber threats pose enormous and immediate dangers to our online activity.

“It is crucial that we take steps to protect the infrastructure and data critical to the day-to-day operations of Government and the private sector.

“It is the private sector that owns and operates the communication networks and critical national infrastructure that allow us to connect to the World Wide Web.

“Government agencies don’t have a monopoly on cyber security expertise, particularly as the technology changes rapidly and the threats are continuously evolving. 

“We need to work together to better share information and expertise between Government and the private sector to address cyber security risks.

“Businesses big and small play an important role in our economy and a secure internet is a key enabler for a successful digital economy.  

“It is also a key condition for big overseas conglomerates like Google, Amazon and Ali Baba to set up shop here in Samoa.”

Project Manager of International Telecommunication Union, Sameer Sharma said the past 20 years has been an extraordinary time for the development of information and communication technologies.

“And with the ‘mobile miracle’ we have brought the benefits of I.C.T.s within reach of virtually all the world’s people. 

“But I believe that the next 20 years will be even more dramatic with 200 billion devices being connected through Internet of Things by 2020 and the benefits of broadband become available to everyone, wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances. 

“According to market capitalisation, there are five companies in top 10 Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc. , Microsoft, Amazon.com, Facebook compared to 10 years back showing strong leadership of technology/I.C.T. companies and their contribution in the economy.

“The Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in 2015, are a great opportunity to put I.C.T.s at the centre of people’s lives. 

“The S.D.G.s has broadened our horizons. 

“Today, it is our duty not only to provide broadband access and affordable I.C.T. services for all, but also to put I.C.T. at the service of other economic sectors such as health, education, agriculture and trade.

“Pacific Island countries are considerably aware of the issues and cyber threats.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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