The government launched the National Cybersecurity Project yesterday, pledging to have a national cybersecurity strategy and Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) established by the third quarter of the year.
The government partnered with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to complete the project, which is expected to take two years to fully implement and is being facilitated through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The most recent data from the ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database 2020 and UN Global Cybersecurity Index shows that The Bahamas had a “low score”, ranking 133 out of 193 countries worldwide on cybersecurity.
Minister of State for Finance Senator Kwasi Thompson said not only will the project improve the country’s international ranking, but it will more importantly provide a safety net for the government, businesses and the wider community from cyber threats.
“There’s no question, the ITU has an index and The Bahamas is not where we’d like it to be and I think that’s the whole purpose behind why we are implementing the CSIRT and why we are moving ahead with the project. It’s important for us to focus on improving where we need to be and we are thankful that the ITU has made this project and this facility available for us,” Thompson said during a virtual press conference yesterday.
“We expect that once completed, not only will we have the increased protection and we’ll have the assessment and the necessary legislation, but we also will be in an improved state with respect to the ITU index and how we shape up with other countries as well.”
The project requires a complete review of all current legislation that impacts digitalization.
“We are currently engaged in the review of these pieces of legislation and we are benchmarking them against what might be best practices in other jurisdictions,” said Elise Delancy, permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.
“Best practices that we would use would be the practices that are best for The Bahamas. You would note that some of our legislation was created in 2003 and 2008, so you know we need an urgent review.”
During the virtual press conference, government officials said they expect to complete a national CSIRT readiness assessment and a capacity maturity model assessment by the third quarter of 2021. They added that by September, the government would have completed a national cybersecurity strategy and national cybersecurity action plan, as well as a plan to have the national CSIRT team operationalized.
Thompson said this project is also expected to further develop the cybersecurity industry and increase jobs.
“CSIRT will not only focus on the government infrastructure, but it will also focus on the private sector and the community when it comes to cyber security, because we can’t just be focused on protecting the government and its assets, but we also have to be focused on protecting our people as well as the private sector, the banks, the hospitals, private businesses. We must make sure there is a specific focus on that. We think that once the awareness continues, that will create opportunities for those persons who are trained in cyber security to have those job opportunities. It also encompasses training and the more Bahamians we are able to train, the more jobs we are able to provide for them,” he said.
He continued, “Cyber security in the world continues to be expanded, it continues to evolve, threats continue to be out there and the more people use the internet and the more people use devices, the more we’re going to have cyber security threats. So, we expect that as we expand the government’s use of the internet and online services, we must also expand the use of cyber security and cyber security experts.”