Government signs agreement with ITU for national cybersecurity project

Government signs agreement with ITU for national cybersecurity project
Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government yesterday announced that it has signed a partnership agreement with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for a ‘historic’ national cybersecurity project.

The ITU is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) arm of the United Nations. The National Cybersecurity Project will provide technical support to The Bahamas through the assessment of the country’s current cybersecurity capabilities and the development of a national cybersecurity strategy.

The partnership will reportedly also assist the government with the establishment a national Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) that will serve as a single trusted, central coordination point of contact for cybersecurity.

The Bahamas’ CIRT’s priorities will include identifying, defending, managing, and responding to cyber threats. Currently, the fight against cyber-crime is limited to the resources available in the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Kwasi Thompson who has responsibility for the Digital Transformation Unit noted that it is critical that The Bahamas places a greater focus on cyber-security.

“The Government of The Bahamas is engaged in the digitization of more than 200 government services over the next five years,” he said.

“Since the passage of Hurricane Dorian and in our current reality of providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Government agencies and the private sector entities are conducting more business transactions over the Internet. It is therefore important to minimize the risks associated with operating a business online.”

Thompson said: “The implementation of this National Cybersecurity Project is critical to the country’s national digitization program. Once implemented, the National CIRT will help identify, protect, and defend against cyber-attacks. The project is very comprehensive and includes building a national strategy, updating our cyber laws, increasing and training of staff, and national education on cybersecurity. This will be one of the most significant steps we have taken to defend our country from cyber-attacks.”

Once established, the CIRTs or Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team (CERTs) will protect, detect, respond, and recover, and assist The Bahamas in identifying and protecting the country’s critical ICT infrastructure and data.

The national CIRT will also be ready to respond to attacks targeting the national critical information infrastructure and will also act as an advisor to The Government on all cybersecurity matters. This project seeks to enhance national expertise on cybersecurity and reduce the human resource capacity gap in cybersecurity.

There will be a significant focus on national awareness training programs, improvements in cybersecurity procedures, and defending and protecting infrastructures and government agencies.

Earlier this year the Office of the Attorney General confirmed that the international information activist group called Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoS) unlawfully hacked into The Bahamas’ corporate registry server in January.

In 2016, The Bahamas’ corporate registry saw a similar breach, when a cache of 1.3 million files was published, providing names of directors and some owners of more than 175,000 Bahamian companies, trusts, and foundations registered between 1990 and early 2016.

The information was released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in the form of an online database.