Cybersecurity is a driver for economic growth and we must take full advantage of it

Dear Editor,

The global economy is dependent on technology. More so, it is driven by technology. The technological innovations help businesses pursue their value chain activities and turn a profit for their owners and shareholders. It is therefore important that Guyana put more emphasis on how technology can improve its social and economic development plans. There have been advances in the development of a robust internal telecommunication network infrastructure, with a bridge to the internet. The introduction of community access points is a great strategy that brings the internet to the citizens of our country. This brings our citizens closer to the global economy. Yes, even Facebook is a player in this domain. While this has been lauded as a great effort, little attention has been placed on the development of a robust cybersecurity strategy.

A robust cybersecurity strategy is important because with the adoption of information systems, there are inherent risks. The term cybercrime would not be important if we were not pursuing the adoption of information and communication technology. Therefore, cybercrime is not a phenomenon but a real persistent threat. This threat must be addressed in a very holistic manner since it has the potential to deny and disrupt our society and economy. The recent cybercrime bill was an important start to developing our national cyber governance road map. Jamaica has made excellent strides in pursuing governance and has developed a maturing cybersecurity strategy that addresses their technical capabilities, human resource and capacity, legal and regulatory compliance, and socialization among their citizens. A measure of performance and effectiveness of this strategy is to develop a culture of cybersecurity. Guyana can also achieve this, in addition to achieving superior understanding of digital citizenship.

As we advance as a small nation state, we need to develop superior strategies that focus on the development of superior efficiency, quality of service, innovation, and sustainability. We need to ensure that we begin to develop standards that sets us apart and ensure success for every stakeholder. In our public sector, we need to implement advanced management information systems. In our private sector, we need to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experiences, and best practices. Since they both share the same critical infrastructure, we need to provide confidence in our cyber-physical systems. Every stakeholder must contribute to the research and development, innovation, and cybersecurity governance. However, this is not an easy process. How do we signal to the international community that we are prepared for the cybersecurity challenges? How do we provide the defence in depth and defence in breadth needs of investors, among others? How do we signal that we are prepared to deliver confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our national infrastructure so that they can be assured to abstract their businesses in our economy?

We can begin by developing “The Guyana National Cybersecurity Policy Charter.” This will signal to the world, that while we are open for business, we are also committed to ensuring the protection of the socioeconomic information assets in our nation state. As we embark on this activity, our leaders must furnish cybersecurity governance that considers international and foreign risk management frameworks as superior languages into new and appropriate creolized policies and standards. Our top priorities should be to begin addressing security in three dimensions: as we pursue the development of incident response capabilities on the X axis, the ability to stop cyber criminals in context of the Cyber kill-Chain on the Y axis, and the abstraction of businesses and their value chain activities on the Z axis. It is also important that we strategically address roles and responsibilities, develop proper organizational structures, include formidable control mechanisms, and provide incentives to develop our security culture.

It is not possible to cover all the various aspects of cybersecurity, strategy, and governance in a letter. However, this should be considered as a discursive narrative that sparks the conversation about Guyana’s cybersecurity posture as it benchmarks against Jamaica, the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Our country is at a point of exponential development. It is very important that we consider all the factors that can limit our ability to effectively achieve social and economic success. Cybercrime affects economic and social stability. Cybersecurity is a driver for economic growth and it is important that we take full advantage of it. Our strategic partners have moved beyond ICT and have seen returns on investment from its adoption. They’ve invested heavily in cybersecurity. It’s important that we develop a strategy that provides reflective security governance as we participate in the global economy.

Yours faithfully,

Dustin Fraser

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