As the Universal Service Fund continues to roll-out free Wi-Fi across the country it is reminding users to connect with care. To date, the Agency has established 13 Public Wi-Fi hotspots in growth centres across the country.
Chief Executive Officer of the Universal Service Fund Daniel Dawes said the Agency intends to institute an additional six free public Wi-Fi solutions by the end of the year. The Agency is also embarking on a community Wi-Fi programme to establish hotspots in 189 residential communities islandwide.
He added that while the USF has placed emphasis on connecting Jamaicans, ensuring users are safe online is of equal importance. To this end he says the Agency has instituted a raft of measures to mitigate against potential cyber threats at its Public Wi-Fi locations.
“We have instituted firewalls at each location to safeguard our Wi-Fi infrastructure. There is also 24/7 monitoring by our internet service providers to ensure quality of service by checking for outages and errors which can cause service disruption”.
Mr Dawes says that in addition to the firewall, measures have been put in place at the point of access to further safeguard users.
“The Universal Service Fund’s Public Wi-Fi networks each have the name ‘USF Connect’ followed by the location to make them more easily recognized by users. So, for instance, Emancipation Park’s SSID is ‘USF Connect Emancipation Park’. Additionally, users must go through a log in page before accessing the Agency’s Public Wi-Fi network”.
The USF is supported in its efforts to educate the public about the safe usage of its public Wi-Fi networks by the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team – Ja CIRT. Head of Ja CIRT Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Godphrey Sterling said when it comes to cyber security breaches it is not a matter of ‘if they will happen’ but rather ‘when they will happen’. As such he is encouraging members of the public to take the necessary precautions.
“One of the threats that users may fall prey to is that of “Evil Twin” networks set up by hackers that masquerade as the network you are seeking to access. It’s therefore important that you carefully check the name of the network you are seeking to access before connecting and of course, if anything looks suspicious, disconnect immediately” Sterling said.