Government approves cyber incident response team

Government approves cyber incident response team
Senator Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government has approved a project with the United Nations Technology Arm- the International Telecommunications Union- that will end in a cybersecurity strategy as well as the creation of a National Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT) Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson said yesterday.

During his contribution to the Senate debate on the 2020/2021 budget Thompson said, “Recently, the government has experienced several cyber-attacks and engaged in several Cybersecurity initiatives.”

Thompson further noted that there is currently a cybersecurity risk assessment being conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank on the data centres of the Government. “This will include penetration testing on the networks. The Government has approved a project with the United Nations Technology Arm, the International Telecommunications Union,  that will end in a cybersecurity strategy and the creation and implementation of the National Cyber Incident Response Team, referred to as the National CIRT.”

Also commenting on hacks of the Registrar General’s Department’s online portal Attorney General Carl Bethel  noted, “The need for a systemic upgrade of both software and hardware has been made absolutely clear by the recent hacking of the database by certain civil society elements in Europe. The police have made a preliminary assessment and have determined that the illicit entry into the database commenced in October 2019 and continued until February 2020. There were no warnings or alerts generated by the system because, apparently, all of the recommendations made following the ICIJ hack in 2016 were not implemented by the former administration. Some changes recommended were made, but not all. Prior to 2016 Passwords were perpetual. Since 2016 all system passwords expire after 90 days, and new passwords are generated. However, other changes recommended, about which I cannot speak publicly, were not followed through.”

Bethel added, “That is water under the bridge. We cannot, however, make the same mistake twice. Hence, the most aggressive steps are being taken to address any remaining defects. Going forward, and in line with our aim to increase efficiency and productivity and the ease of doing in The Bahamas, the Registrar General’s Department, earlier this year, was authorized by Cabinet to enter into a contract, and is in the process of obtaining a state of the art online Corporate Registry, which will be developed by the company that developed the Corporate Registry for a regional jurisdiction which provides exemplary financial services, and which is one of The Bahamas’ largest financial services competitors.”

Bethel further noted that, “The specific terms of the contract are still being finalized with the assistance of the OAG.The goal is to create a complete database for all Company filings. The proposed system will have two platforms: one that will be developed specifically for use by individuals and another that will be developed specifically for use by financial and corporate service providers.” Bethel said that it is anticipated that this new system will greatly enhance the efficiency of the companies section and allow more services to be done online.