United National Congress » Tancoo – Government clueless on cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

During his contribution at Wednesday’s sitting of the House where the Government had hurriedly brought the Finance Bill, 2023 for debate, Oropouche West MP Dave Tancoo called out the Government’s $500,000 tax concession on cyber security investment as an impractical measure.

Tancoo, the Opposition’s Shadow Minister of Finance, cited from Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s 2024 budget presentation that the tax concession to businesses, up to the sum of $500,000 was for “companies which incur expenditure in respect of investments in cybersecurity software and network security monitoring equipment.” [1] He said that this initiative once again proves that the Rowley-led Government is totally out of touch with reality, as they remain clueless as to where the real issue and threat concerning cyber security lies.

According to Tancoo, “TSTT was hacked, the Office of the Prime Minister was hacked, Massy was hacked, the A.G.’s Office was hacked, and all of them would have invested heavily into cyber security software and network security monitoring equipment etc. The problem is that this Government is simply not aware of where the crisis is with cybersecurity. Software is what they are proposing! Spend money on software and you’re good; TSTT spent money on software but they were not good!”

MP Tancoo also observed that Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales, who has to date not provided any report on the TSTT cyber breach that occurred in early October 2023, was himself complaining that T&T did not have the resident capability to properly investigate that incident.

Further, referring to a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee (JSC) enquiry held just two days prior on the Government’s ongoing response to the recent cyber-attacks on state bodies/entities, the Oropouche West MP described it as a “startling revelation” that senior officials of the TTPS Cyber Crime Unit and similar persons from associated agencies responsible for tracking cyber criminals, were telling the JSC (and the country) that they were under-resourced.

At the said JSC Meeting, Minister of Digital Transformation, Hassel Bacchus himself admitted his Government’s failure, stating that, “we recognize initially from the onset that we don’t have enough cyber-security professionals here, and that is just for the Ministry (Digital Transformation). Think about that being expanded across all of Trinidad and Tobago; all of the private sector etc”.

In his contribution to the Finance Bill, 2023 Tancoo said, “It is unacceptable because the Government simply does not know what it is doing – it believes that it will ‘mamaguay’ the population by giving tax concessions, but it will not spend the money where it is supposed to be spent, which is in developing, harnessing and equipping the relevant authorities to track down, prosecute and persecute cyber criminals in T&T. They have not put in place the relevant connections so that they can prosecute and persecute via various agencies abroad as well, where the attacks are taking place”.

Another very troubling confession made by Minister Bacchus at Monday’s JSC concerned the level of disparity among Government Ministries that exist in terms of cyber protection capability, when he stated, “We do know significantly more now than we did at the beginning and we are still trying to put that together but it is such a disparate set of levels. So you can go from the Ministry of AGLA being extremely well done to other Ministries that we have gone into that are quite vulnerable.”

MP Tancoo commented that this was a crying shame, since this PNM Government has had both knowledge and ample opportunity to deal with the global issue of cyber-security, as evidenced by the Minister of National Security’s opening remarks National Cyber Risk Assessment Virtual Workshop more than two years ago[1], but has failed to commit.

The Oropouche West MP said his advice to the Government remains exactly as he stated in his contribution at Wednesday’s Parliamentary sitting, that, “You could put all the money you want on cyber software etc., until they get ready, until they get realistic, until they get real, until they get factual and truthful, this Government will continue to spin top in mud and suffer citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.”

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