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Jamaicans Encouraged to Report Cyberattacks



By: Rocheda Bartley



#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

Barbados to Host 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace this Spring



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer



#Barbados, February 2, 2023 – Barbados has been selected to host the 41st edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace. The event will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown from May 9 -11, and it is expected to build on the success of the 40th staging held in Puerto Rico last fall.

CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig, who made the announcement recently, said it’s the first time in the organization’s history that the association’s largest annual event, which brings together buyers and sellers of the region’s tourism products and services, will be staged in Barbados.

“CHTA has a very strong relationship with both public and private sector stakeholders in Barbados, and as we position the region’s top earner for robust growth this year, we are delighted to lock arms with our Bajan partners to drive business to the Caribbean,” she stated.

Noting that: “This year’s Marketplace will also provide unique access to the Eastern Caribbean for buyers and tour operators as the region places a strong focus on the revival of multi-destination travel.”

Minister of Tourism and International Transport of Barbados Ian Gooding-Edghill, said the Barbados tourism industry was undergoing a major renaissance in the post-COVID environment, and the timing could not be better to welcome Caribbean Travel Marketplace to local soil.

“We are honoured to host such a preeminent gathering of tourism stakeholders from around the world,”  Minister Gooding-Edghill said, noting that the meeting aligns with Barbados’ value offerings, which appeal, among others, to the very important MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] market.

The launch of the first Caribbean Travel Forum & Awards, a highlight of the Puerto Rico meeting, will return for a second edition and will be held in Barbados on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, ahead of the official opening ceremony of Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

The Forum will also focus on the business of tourism, and business appointments will be conducted on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11.

Over 150 delegates, including Ministers of Tourism and key private sector leaders, engaged in the Caribbean Travel Forum last year.

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Bahamas News

National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas



By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer



#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.

“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.

Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.

Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”

The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.

Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.

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Caribbean News

Guyana secures cryotherapy machines to help fight cervical cancer



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer



#Guyana, February 2, 2023 – Guyana will see a significant boost to its healthcare system soon as the health ministry has acquired 20 cryotherapy machines to help treat and prevent cervical cancer, the second most prevalent cancer among women in the country.

Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, involves cooling the body’s tissues for therapeutic purposes and removing the abnormal tissue. This type of therapy is also used to treat many skin conditions and some cancers, including prostate, cervical and liver cancer.

The Health Ministry said the machines will help clear the backlog of patients needing such treatment.

Director of the Non-Communicable Diseases Programme of the Health Ministry, Dr. Latchmie Lall, said the equipment will be very instrumental in providing immediate service to patients.

“We are indeed very thankful for this donation of cryotherapy machines that were brought through the IDB project; a total of 20 machines that are going to be used to improve our screening services for cervical cancer; this will come as a great measure for not only screening but to provide immediate medical treatment in that if we do find a pathological cervix, cryotherapy can be applied immediately, and we have one healthy patient going back home to her family,” Dr. Lall said.

Director of Primary Healthcare Services, Dr. Ertensia Hamilton, said the equipment comes at an opportune time when the ministry is extending its services for women of reproductive age across the country.

“We recognise that Guyana still has a high incidence of cervical cancer in our women, and so we want to be able to have services available to them as we work towards ensuring that each individual across their life course has services to meet their medical needs,” she said.

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, during his comment, revealed that Guyana is trying to develop a comprehensive programme for cervical cancer.

“One of the things that we are trying to do is to have a comprehensive cervical cancer programme. The first level will be to prevent cervical cancer. We want to do that by encouraging people to get the HPV vaccination. We have these vaccines available. We have been rolling them out to ensure that every person eligible for these vaccines gets them.”

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