This island now has the opportunity to better secure its information technology borders, with the launch of the Barbados Chapter of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).
As a non-profit organisation, the Barbados Chapter, which was officially recognised by ISSA in April 2010, is concerned with the promotion of management practices that ensure confidentiality and integrity, while raising national awareness about personal information security and privacy issues.?? This mandate is one with which Minister of Commerce, Senator Haynesley Benn, fully supported in his address to members of the association, last Friday night.
"The importance of information and communication technologies (ICT’s) as drivers of development, especially in the developing world, cannot be overstated.?? They provide Small Island Developing States with a springboard which will enable them to leapfrog instead of struggling in vain to catch up with the developed world," he said, adding that the National Council on Science and Technology’s National ICT Strategic Plan 2010-2015, served to further the application and use of ICT’s in the country.
The Commerce Minister noted that the successful use of information technology aided in a company’s ability to develop, either through cutting operating costs or boosting efficiency.
"In a survey conducted by the World Bank in 2006 among 56 developing countries, it was found that businesses that utilised e-mail to communicate with their clients and suppliers grew at a faster rate, in terms of sales and employment creation, compared to those that used other methods," Minister Benn stated.?? However, he also observed that with ICTs many benefits also came some challenges.
"Despite its enormous potential, ICT presents a new avenue, whereby fraud and corrupt activities can be perpetrated….the online environment in which most of our organisations operate and conduct business today has made it necessary for them to pay special attention to their information security policies and practices…threats range from internet attacks and viruses, to denial-of-service attacks and natural disasters.?? It is, therefore, important that developing economies such as ours pay special attention to the vulnerability of our information systems in the face of deliberate and malicious attacks," Mr. Benn said. To illustrate this project, he referred to Information Economy Report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which indicated that nearly 50 per cent of companies in Brazil, China and Singapore cited security issues barriers to ICT adoption.
Now, in addition to Barbados’ existing Computer Misuse Act, Electronic Transactions Act and the proposed Data Protection Act, which were all created to protect digital information and privacy, the ISSA Barbados Chapter will serve to boost national focus and knowledge about ICT issues.??
Chapter President David Gittens reflected on the reasons for the creation of the local organisation, explaining that development of the Chapter came out of the need for a body which addressed ICT matters.
"Here in Barbados, there was no organised group which allowed us to [be protected against threats].?? We realised there was a wealth of security information talent [on the island]…we started investigating reputable security organisations, from the view of bringing one to Barbados.?? After an in-depth search, we settled on the ISSA," the President pointed out, resulting in the ISSA Barbados Chapter being the first in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Monthly meetings focused on significantly improving national information security, and within its first year of operation, the organisation has been able to improve the professional development of its membership, including completion of CISSP Certification, considered the gold standard among information security specialists.?? The ISSA Barbados Chapter has also taken time to focus on developing new talent, by partnering with the University of the West Indies Mentorship Programme – an initiative lauded by Gittens.
He also revealed that since the organisation’s official start last April, it has already procured valuable resources, tools and contacts to assist it in the way forward.??
"We have identified and started work on a number of strategic projects for the benefit of information security in the island.?? We envision that with the support of government and the private sector, we’ll be able to bring most, if not all of them, into reality.
??We’ve also initiated relationships with reputable local organisations for the purpose of achieving some of these strategic goals…we’re also forging relationships with reputable international organisations, [which] are able to help us in the areas of training and education, and that is the real key to improving information security," Mr. Gittens explained.????