NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his remarks at the first-ever National CIRT (Computer Incident Response Team) Stakeholder Engagement Symposium, on August 23, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted that it was “an exciting time” for digital transformation in the country, and cybersecurity was at the core of that revolutionary time.
The National Computer Incident Response Team, he said, “is a first of its kind in the country, being organised by Digital Transformation to Strengthen Competitiveness Project, and headed by Sametria McKinney, National CIRT Manager, in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union of the United Nations,” Prime Minister Davis said at the event held at SuperClubs Breezes.
“The development of the cybersecurity posture in the country underpins the objectives for digital transformation, and the establishment of the CIRT is a critical resource,” he added.
Among those present included Parliamentary Secretary at Ministry of Economic Affairs Wayde Watson, and senior advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister Kevin Simmons.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the National CIRT will serve as a focal point for coordinating cybersecurity incident response to cyber-attacks — providing cybersecurity support services to government, private organizations, and Bahamian citizens — particularly those in critical infrastructure and essential services in order to defend against malicious cyber activities.
“In our Blueprint for Change, we identified cybersecurity as one of the critical initiatives for accelerating the country’s economic growth and development,” he said. “We also recognize that cybersecurity and cyber resilience are essential to developing a digital society and secure and protect every citizen of The Bahamas.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, cybersecurity is a journey, one that we cannot take alone.”
Cybersecurity is a whole community effort, Prime Minister Davis pointed out. He added that government, industry and individual citizens all had a part to play.
“I am delighted we see you all here today to engage in discussions with our cybersecurity experts and learn from their experience in building National Cyber Resilience,” Prime Minister Davis said. He noted that the National CIRT establishment project started in March 2021; and that many activities had been organised during the past year to assess The Bahamas’ cybersecurity posture and enhance its cyber resilience.
“These activities, which many of you have already been a part of, include the CIRT Readiness Assessment and Incident Response Training, Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model Assessment, developed by the Global Cyber Security Capacity Center at the University of Oxford, and most importantly, the National Cybersecurity Strategy,” Prime Minister Davis said.
He pointed out that the National Cybersecurity Strategy (NCS), which outlines the country’s cybersecurity strategic principles, guidelines, and objectives, was in its final draft and was being prepared for Cabinet’s approval.
“The strategic assessment was conducted with the engagement of cross-functional stakeholders across the public and private sections,” he said. “We expect that the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Strategy will improve the security of our digital infrastructure and ultimately contribute to its broader socio-economic growth.
“I look forward to its presentation to Cabinet.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that, in The Bahamas, they had seen a rise in digital threats and malicious cyber activities, including data breaches to public infrastructure, losses from digital fraud and illicit financial flows, amongst other activities.
“Cybersecurity is the crucial foundation for advancing our utilization of ICT and managing cyber risks,” he said.
He also noted the CIRT Bahamas’ mission, which he quoted, “…to improve the country’s cybersecurity posture through proactive identification and management of cyber risks, collaborated cyber information sharing, and education while protecting the constitutional rights of all Bahamians” was both clear, achievable and evoked a sense of pride and community.
“Our collaboration with our friends and partners across the globe, specifically information sharing at the regional and sub-regional levels on cybersecurity capacity building and development, will better position the Bahamas to deal with increasingly sophisticated cyber threats,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“Consistent with these advances will be our commitment to modernizing our legal framework to support our cybersecurity initiatives and to be strong and resilient against cybercrime.”
Prime Minister Davis thanked the CIRT- Bahamas team and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, The Bahamas’ ITU partners and organizers of the event.
“We are making big strides in our journey toward a digital society,” he said. “The National CIRT and cybersecurity strategy will give us the protection and provide the safeguards that we all need in order to do business, transact and learn in that space.”
“Thank you and I wish you success as you continue your workshops.”