The Bahamas will have a national strategy plan on cybersecurity within the next nine months, as it prepares to implement a full computer emergency response team (CERT) by early next year.
Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said this comes as the government assures its commitment to cybersecurity, adapting international standards, engaging stakeholders and fostering collaborations on multiple levels.
“The Global Cybersecurity Index by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) measures the commitment of countries to cybersecurity. The Bahamas has recently entered discussions with the ITU directly with a view to performing a national cybersecurity and CERT readiness assessment within the next six months, facilitating a national strategy and plan within nine months and the implementation of a full CERT,” Thompson said during the opening of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Caribbean Cybersecurity Conference, held at the Baha Mar resort yesterday.
The IDB’s Observatory of Cybersecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean report shows that the majority of the Bahamian population in 2016 (383,054 people) has access to the Internet – some 294,951 people representing 77 percent internet penetration. The report also noted that there were 273,300 mobile subscriptions.
A recent Caribbean Regional Quarterly Bulletin on infrastructure development found that despite recent advances in information and communications technology (ICT), The Bahamas ranks 22nd in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region in mobile telephone penetration and 15th in wireless broadband penetration.
“Cybersecurity has even more relevance as we embark upon our e-government digital transformation project. We intend to put at least 200 government services online within five years, a move which will make it easier and cheaper for Bahamians to access government services. A few days ago, we introduced the first phase of the online passport application service, which allows citizens to apply for their passports online. Citizens can now complete applications online, upload documents and complete the process by paying for the service,” he said.
“Online payments will be made possible by the cashless platform project, which is currently underway and is at an advanced stage. This platform will allow for online payments via credit and debit and enables online receipting.
“We have plans afoot to conduct a pilot involving the application for a driver’s license, renewal of e-passports and application for a birth certificate by the middle of 2020, as well as another 30 services added to our online platform within the next year. The sharing of personal data over the Internet has its own vulnerabilities and we must address this reality in a proactive manner.”
Thompson also pointed to government’s future digitization projects, which include developing a cybersecurity and cybercrime strategy and action plan; building capacity through training and expert knowledge transfer activities; developing infrastructure-focused CERTs as well as a national CERT; working toward acceding to the Budapest convention on cybersecurity; adopting best practices and embarking on legislative reform; and engaging in an extensive cybersecurity awareness and education program.