PNP spokesman urges ‘swift’ action to boost government cybersecurity | News | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

The Opposition Spokesman on Technology Dr Andre Haughton is urging the Government to take “swift and decisive” action to stem the “troubling surge” of cyberattacks on state institutions. 

His call follows news that the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) was the victim of a ransomware attack in February. The agency has spent over $36 million on efforts to recover, and strengthen its information technology systems. 

Over the last 12 months, the state-owned oil refinery Petrojam and the regulator, the Financial Services Commission suffered similar attacks. 

Haughton said a “disturbing pattern” is developing which is “leading to substantial financial loses and threatening national security”.

“The recent cyberattacks, including significant breaches at Petrojam and the Financial Services Commission, have exposed critical vulnerabilities in Jamaica’s cyberinfrastructure. These breaches not only disrupt essential services but also erode investor confidence and undermine the stability of the national economy,” he said in a statement on Saturday. 

The People’s National Party’s spokesman has proposed what he said is a “comprehensive strategy” to address the vulnerabilities. 

It includes an immediate audit of all government systems; establishing security standards for ministries, departments and agencies; giving sufficient funding for the national IT authority eGov; investing in advanced cybersecurity technologies; promoting collaboration; strengthening regulatory systems and developing detailed response strategies, among others. 

Saying he is willing to work with the authorities on the problem, Haughton said failure to promptly address the issues “could significantly hinder Jamaica’s economic growth and compromise its national security. 

The National Certification Body of Jamaica and the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority, which share campus with BSJ, were also impacted by the attack.

On Wednesday, Dr Velton Gooden, executive director at BSJ, confirmed to The Gleaner that a number of files he described as “working documents” shared between different individuals were encrypted.

However, Gooden said none of BSJ’s core systems was affected and that no data was removed or extracted from its ICT environment.

He said the breach stemmed from a phishing attack that compromised some staff credentials and potentially exposed BSJ’s systems to malware.

In 2022, Godphey Sterling, head of Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team, a government entity, warned of Jamaica being a possible soft target for disrupted cyber gangs that had nefarious operations clamped in Europe. At that time, he spoke to the country’s vulnerable cyberinfrastructure.

Last year, he disclosed that government is looking to establish the new National Cybersecurity Authority within the next two to four years.

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National Cyber Security