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Jamaicans Encouraged to Report Cyberattacks

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By: Rocheda Bartley

(JIS) 

 

#Jamaica, June 6, 2022 – The use of technology should make life easier, but in some cases, it is utilised by nefarious persons to carry out vicious cyberattacks.

Quite often people fall victim to fraudsters who swindle their money through cyberattacks, like smishing and vishing.

The former is the social engineering practice of sending fraudulent text messages to convince people to share personal identifiable information, such as credit card numbers and banking details, while the latter gathers these particulars through telephone calls.

Although these hacks are not new, Head of the Jamaica Cyber Incidence Response Team (JaCIRT), Lieutenant Colonel Godphey Sterling, laments that they are largely under-reported.

He is encouraging victims to speak up, as their silence hampers the organisation’s ability to fully grasp the magnitude of the situation and take the necessary actions for redress.

“We measure yearly reports in concert with the financial year. So, from April last year to March this year, we would have had about 29 such attacks reported. But when we do our monitoring, we are seeing significantly more indication that this is a problem. And oftentimes, when we see these indicators and reach out to potential or actual victims, they are unwilling to participate in a process of remediation,” Lt. Col. Sterling tells JIS News.

He is urging persons who believe they are victims of a cyberattack, particularly any of these social engineering attacks, to report the matter to the law-enforcement agencies, such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) or JaCIRT.

Last month (May), there was an uptick in the reported cases within the banking industry.

Manager for Special Investigations with the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Fraud Prevention Unit, Dane Nicholson, says this institution has always had issues where one or two customers have become victims of these attacks.

He explains that fraudsters send text messages to random numbers, and once someone responds they know they have made a hit.

Usually, these messages have a link that drives persons to a web page that prompts them to enter their information. From here, the defrauders will get sufficient information to call these individuals, pretend to be an NCB employee and execute a vishing.

While the immediate reported cases involve NCB customers only, the institution is not the sole bank where customers come under attack. This is evidenced by persons who receive text messages that purport suspicious activities in their bank accounts at an establishment with which they are not affiliated.

Like NCB, the going attacks have prompted JaCIRT to ramp up its year-long public education and awareness campaigns.

Lt. Col. Sterling informs that protecting oneself in cyberspace usually has three dimensions. One is the personal responsibility to recognise that the tools used to access online resources, or to work in cyberspace, must be used with regard for safety and security. Therefore, individuals cannot dismiss their personal responsibility for safely navigating cyberspace.

Number two is that businesses are now obligated to protect the personally identifiable information of their clients.

And stressing the third, as he commits to carrying out JaCIRT’s mandate, Lt. Col. Sterling says the “Government has a duty to provide a framework within which all of this can take place as securely as possible”.

“We have the JaCIRT and the Information Commissioner, among others, including law-enforcement [bodies].  So, persons are encouraged to get out of that feeling of being a victim or not wanting to be seen as a victim and report these crimes whenever they occur,” he says.

Lt. Col. Sterling points out that there is no 100 per cent safe way to navigate through cyberspace and is appealing to online users to be careful how they answer calls from unknown numbers.

The same diligence must be taken when responding to SMS messages, clicking on links, or downloading attachments from emails.

“If the senders are unknown or known to you and the context or subject headings look suspicious, just double check. And the same way you treat an email, you really need to treat an SMS message, because the sophistication with which these messages are created is very similar to how emails and web pages are designed,” he says.

Meanwhile, Director of Information Technology at the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Omar Gentles, is encouraging persons to explore the privacy policy of websites as well.

This is especially as the Cybercrime Act 2010 and Data Protection Act (2020) protect online users that only operate within the Jamaican jurisdiction.

He notes that even though victims of online fraud are, indeed, consumers, there’s little that the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) can do to help with loss recovery in smishing and vishing attacks.

“When it comes on to it helping consumers to deal with online fraud that has taken place or is suspected, the CAC can only really offer guidance at this moment. This is in terms of helping you to reach out to the different entities that can really help, such as the fraud squad. So, you must be very careful and make sure that you do diligence in assessing sites and making the right decision about using them,” Mr. Gentles says.

The CAC is a government agency that informs, educates, and empowers consumers to protect themselves in the marketplace.

Caribbean News

600 young Farmers & Fishers for 21 million JMD gender-sensitive, climate resilience project

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#Jamaica, 15 August 2022 – Jamaica 4-H Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are partnering to strengthen the climate and disaster resilience of 600 young farmers and fishers, in support of national efforts to shore up food security against climate crisis.

Farmers and fishers from select communities in Clarendon, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St Thomas are slated to benefit under a 21.3 million JMD pilot project launched Thursday (11 August) at the Jamaica 4-H Training and Production Centre at Denbigh.

Six hundred will receive awareness building resources on climate smart agriculture and value-added income generating opportunities in their sectors; 175 of the 600 will be trained and certified in crop and livestock production, fisheries, and agro processing; and 110 trained and certified beneficiaries will get venture inputs, technical support, and coaching to support a successful start in business.

In a bid to address gender inequities that typically restrain the full potential of the sector, the project will provide male and female participants with equal access to resources, training and coaching.

The project is being piloted over six months under the EnGenDER project (Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate & Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean) with funding from Global Affairs Canada, and the UK Government.

“It is no secret that our women and young people face great challenges in accessing resources to adapt to climate change. If we are to create a future that ensures agricultural security, as we grow smart and eat smart, our youth must be at the forefront of this drive for food security”, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Franklin Witter stated.

He said youth inclusion is a priority and reiterated government’s policy decision to direct 20% of government owned lands for lease by young farmers. He said the EnGenDER pilot project will strengthen youth resilience to climate change and help to pull vulnerable groups towards maximizing their true potential.

“Gender Equality is the most effective way to reduce poverty and to build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world”, Canadian High Commissioner Excellency Emma Tudakovic stated in her remarks.  She said the EnGenDER project and its climate change adaptation pilot have provided opportunities to strengthen the integration of gender equality into sectoral planning and implementation processes to strengthen climate resilience.  “It is our hope that with this support, more young persons will become included in these important industries and the project will provide a supportive framework for the ongoing development of the fisheries sector., Ms Tudakovic said.  She emphasized the importance of engaging and encouraging youth to develop solutions to the climate induced challenges faced by the agricultural sector and the need for climate smart agriculture.

Oliver Blake, Head of Jamaica Political and Development Team and Senior Governance Adviser (Caribbean), in the British High Commission underscored the importance of translating global and regional commitments into actionable solutions that touch people on the frontlines of climate change. “Some people round the world have the resources to adapt easily or to move their families and business elsewhere but in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that is not so easy. We know that SIDS did not contribute to climate change, and the first to suffer its effects most immediately. Those first to suffer are those in poorer communities,” Mr Blake underlined.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio called for greater investments in gender sensitive resilience programming to strengthen Jamaica’s climate resilience. “A gender equal approach integrating youth, women, men, Persons with Disabilities, and other groups at risk of being left behind, will maximize the resilience and productivity of Jamaica’s fisheries and agricultural sectors,” she said. Ms Antonio said more young people and more young women should participate in these sectors on a level playing field that affords equal access to capital and support for resilient livelihoods and recovery in the event of a climate-induced disaster.  She charged the participants to pass on what they learned to others. “… absorb the resources of this project, apply, and add value to what you have learned. Innovate new methods of securing your outputs and energizing your business ideas as overcomers of climate change, then come back and teach us what you have learned”, she advised.

Jamaica 4-H Clubs chairman Colin Virgo called climate change and food security the two single greatest threats to humanity and called for action to address the threats. “Let us not wait for us to have another record-breaking year of category five storms (caused by climate change); let us not wait until the world breaks out into war over food. Let us not wait until we cannot feed the population of the world,” he warned.

 

Jamaica 4-H Foundation Director Ronald Blake called for food diversification using resilient plants to strengthen food security, cut wastage while combatting combat climate change.  He said the earth creates 90% of its food from only 20 of approximately 20 000 plant species. “We believe if we are going to fix food security, we have to eat some of the things we are no longer eating. Some of these foods are resilient to the changes to the climate,” he explained.

In Jamaica, only 20% of farmers are young people 18 to 35 years of age, and only 31% of youth farmers are female.  In the fisheries sector, this is further reduced to 5.9% females.

 

Release: UNDP

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Caribbean News

TCI Premier and Delegation visit NCI in Jamaica

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#Manchester, Jamaica, 14 August 2022 – The Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and his delegation have arrived at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Central Jamaica.The Premier will give the address at the second commencement ceremony and will be conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Commerce Degree.  The Premier completed high school at West Indies College which is now NCU more than 50 years ago.  Premier Misick and his delegation are on a four day visit to Jamaica.The Office of the Premier and Public Policy will bring commencement live on its Facebook page at 2PM EST.The Premier’s delegation includes: First Lady, Mrs. Delthia Russell-Misick; Hon. Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services; Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Mr. Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Ms. Althea Been, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Immigration and Border Services; Mr. Miquel Swann, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier and Public Policy; Mr. Edwin Taylor, Commissioner of Labour; and Mr. Bentley Johnson Aide De Camp.

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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.

 

Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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