JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, is warning users of the Internet to exercise caution once they log on.
  • “We log on to the Internet and we can do business – banking, communicate with friends, make phone calls and do all sorts of things – but what we are finding out is that there are people who want the information you put on social media. They want your phone number, pictures, address and everything about you,” she said.
  • The Minister pointed out that this information is usually sold or used to blackmail people for money or even lure unsuspecting persons into situations that are usually life- threatening.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, is warning users of the Internet to exercise caution once they log on.

“We log on to the Internet and we can do business – banking, communicate with friends, make phone calls and do all sorts of things – but what we are finding out is that there are people who want the information you put on social media. They want your phone number, pictures, address and everything about you,” she said.

The Minister pointed out that this information is usually sold or used to blackmail people for money or even lure unsuspecting persons into situations that are usually life- threatening.

Mrs. Williams was speaking during the Manchester leg of the Cybersecurity Awareness Month Road Show, held in the Cecil Charlton Park, Mandeville, on Friday, October 25.

The Minister emphasised that it is important for Government to take the lead in informing and educating the public to avoid the pitfalls.

“We are here today to educate [residents of] the town of Mandeville about how to be safe when they get into the cyberworld. Our members of the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT) are located at the Ministry and are primarily responsible for increasing awareness among the population about cybersecurity and ensure that our systems in Jamaica are safe from attack,” she noted.

She pointed out that CIRT is on the job 24/7 and 365 days a year to ensure that they can spot all the people who want to gain access to the systems before they strike, and take measures to eliminate them before they do harm.

Mrs. Williams also highlighted the dangers of human trafficking, for which the Internet is the main tool used by persons who attract unsuspecting victims by promising them jobs and other inducements.

“The more young people explore, the more they are drawn into these requests to send nude pictures that they have no idea what it will be used for. Maybe five years down the road when you are applying for college, this nude picture emerges, and so we have to educate our people to be smart when they go online… that it is important to keep personal information safe – do not share your password at all,” she cautioned.

Jamaica CIRT will be hosting similar shows islandwide to take the information to the people about the dangers they face when they go online.

Cyberspace, the Minister said, is wonderful for connecting with relatives all over the world, but people should stop and think before they connect.

Meanwhile, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Carl Berry, who heads the Trafficking in Persons Unit at the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), said social media is an attraction for criminals, and children, who are the main users, are a vulnerable group, so criminals, who know this, see them as easy targets.

“We’re using a multisectoral/multiagency task force approach, so all entities are engaged, including the Ministry. Criminals use technology to hide behind a curtain; they converge in that space just like any shrewd businessman. The criminals are running human trafficking as a business that needs new recruits, so they target them on the Internet,” he noted.

Mr. Berry cited the recent case where many persons were charged for child trafficking and were operating on the “dark web”, which, along with the “deep web”, is now an area of focus for his

He said criminals want anonymity and they think the dark web is their best bet, because this is a clandestine crime and numbers are hard to get to gauge how widespread it is.

“We have rescued people locally from human trafficking, we have convicted people for human trafficking and in excess of 30 people were charged with breaches of the Trafficking in Persons law.

It’s real and a global crime that cannot be fought by a single entity or country, but it’s our job to eradicate it,” Mr. Berry said.