Jamaica is leading the charge to significantly improve the Caribbean’s response in tackling existing and emerging cybersecurity threats through the development of skills in this area.
The country is now undertaking a Strategic Cybersecurity Training Needs Assessment, which will serve to identify the cybersecurity knowledge and skills required to deliver and sustain strategic responses to combat malicious cyber activities across the region.
The initiative, which is a significant action under the revised Draft National Cybersecurity Strategy of Jamaica, will inform the building of cybersecurity scholarship and talent to serve the country and the rest of the Caribbean.
The needs assessment was launched during a two-day Virtual Caribbean Cybersecurity Skills Symposium, which kicked off on Wednesday (August 25).
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, in welcoming the symposium, said it is a timely initiative amidst an increased digitally driven world and global reliance on information and communications technology (ICT).
“Given the increased incidence of cyberattacks, it has become increasingly clear that governments and institutions must take cyberthreat management seriously. At the same time, this global challenge is compounded by a global cybersecurity skills shortage,” she said.
Mrs. Williams contended that undertaking a training needs analysis is a critical first step in addressing the issue of a cyber-skills shortage that affects the Caribbean.
She cited a study done by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC) Cybersecurity Workforce, which estimates that the gap between the 2.8 million cyber professionals currently employed in 11 major world economies and the total number needed in the public and the private sector is around four million.
Ms. Williams stressed that the need for qualified experts within the region to aid in a successful fight against cybercrime “cannot be overemphasised”, especially as cyberthreats continue to grow in sophistication.
“A report published in June this year stated that the cybersecurity skills crisis continues on a downward trend, impacting over half (57 per cent) of large organisations. At the same time, companies are incurring steep costs from data breaches, with an average of $4.24 million per incident. This is a nearly 10 per cent increase over 2020,” she lamented.
As part of the national strategy and initiative to build and maintain cybersecurity capacities and expertise at the national and regional levels, Jamaica launched the Caribbean Institute of Cyber Science in June 2020.
It is intended that that Institute, which is part of the Caribbean Military Academy, will provide the necessary cybersecurity training and cyber-skills capacity building to support the efforts of the region in tackling cybercrime.
The Institute’s programmes and courses are currently at the design and development stage, and the results of the needs analysis will help to inform its cybersecurity training and education offerings.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the Government is committed to strengthening cybersecurity training and education, “and will continue to lead this process of improving our national and regional cyber resilience and response”.
“Cybercrime is a clear and present danger to every country in the region. This is the new frontier of national and regional security resilience and an area in which the Government of Jamaica is deeply committed,” he said.
British High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Harriett Cross; Executive Secretary, Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the Organization of American States (OAS), Alison August Treppel; Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rocky Meade; and Secretary General, Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Rodney Taylor, also brought remarks.
The Symposium was hosted by the Government of Jamaica through the Office of the National Security Advisor with the support of Protection Group International and facilitated by the OAS.
The undertaking of the Caribbean Training Needs Analysis is being supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.