Saturday, April 20, 2024

Cyber experts’ concerns


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There are good aspects but some concerns about Barbados’ cyber situation, says a cyber and forensic consultant.

The recently passed Data Protection Act has been lauded for the compliance it demands to secure cyber information, while free WiFi access and the excessive use of social media, were cited as problematic.

Chief Executive Officer of Caribbean Cyber Forensics 360 Inc, Neil Hinds, said because people think the Act was “too much, they are pulling it down; even politicians are getting involved in it and saying that it is unreasonable”. However, he contended that Barbados was “going too long without some sort of compliance to protect data, so the act, in extension with the Computer Misuse Act, is very timely for the digital transformation that this Government is going forward on”.

Hinds shared his perspective at a half-day seminar entitled Hackers Halted at the Courtyard by Marriott, Hastings, Christ Church yesterday. A former policeman, Hinds encouraged the information technology (IT) practitioners at the seminar to study the act because it protected owners of data.

But he issued a stern warning to internet users about using free WiFi.

“Do not connect to free WiFi . . . . Government came with this free WiFi, they want to make sure everybody got free Wifi, but that is where the hackers can go and sit down and get all your information. Do not connect to free WiFi, I beg you.”

In reference to social media, the consultant said it was thought “to be the best thing . . . not understanding the serious implications that it has and will continue to unless we change our behaviour”.

He cautioned too, that there was malware in apps but no software to detect it and safeguard the user.

Hinds called for training of persons to detect data breaches saying that “in the Caribbean there were 14 digital specialists [in] law enforcement but they are getting overwhelmed. So, Government and law enforcement need to continue training personnel to take over to handle some of the work. With digital currency coming down the line, there will be more work . . . . We are going to need more cyber security specialists. [The] private sector needs to partner with law enforcement and Government to create an academia. We cannot continue to go to our big brothers and sisters to bring specialists in when we have cases . . . . We have our own. . . . We have persons here who have the ability to do it,” said Hinds, noting the legislative powers available as in the Data Processing Act.

In addressing the issue of hackers, Hinds said they came in different categories. He said script kiddoes were children who fool around, white hat hackers are the good guys while the gray hat hackers can be influenced to go right or wrong. Then there are the black hat hackers whom he described as “the bad boys”, and the suicide hackers who did not care.

Hinds said black hat hackers take information, either sell it or buy it, and also use free WiFi to access data through the backdoor. That’s why internet users should be wary of free WiFi. (JS)


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