The Bahamas strengthens its cybersecurity capacity

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The Bahamas has launched a project with ITU to set up a national Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) to help protect the small island country’s critical digital infrastructure and data.

The National Cybersecurity Project, started in January and officially launched in February at national level, aims to help assess current Bahamian capabilities in this rapidly evolving field, as well as develop its National Cybersecurity Strategy.

The national CIRT will also support the government in building national cybersecurity expertise, closing human resource gaps, and supporting the elaboration of a cybersecurity framework and policies. Bahamian officials must do all they can “to put mechanisms in place to protect the government’s systems and citizens’ data from exposure to [cyber] attacks,” said the State Minister for Finance, Kwasi Thompson.

Digitizing hundreds of government services

The government’s recent decision to digitize more than 200 public administration services over the next five years has heightened the country’s need for a well-equipped cybersecurity team that can identify, defend, manage, and respond to cyber threats, Thompson added.

“The creation of this National Cybersecurity Strategy will help with review and further implementation of cyber legislation for the protection of citizens and clients,” he said.

Rapid growth in online business transactions – among both government entities and the private sector – makes cybersecurity enhancements paramount. The Bahamas, like other small island developing states in the Caribbean, needs to provide a safe online environment that minimizes any risks associated with online service provision.

The project will also support the development of related national cybersecurity platforms, including a national public key infrastructure (PKI), e-government services (including national identity services), and an access management framework.

ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau Director, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, highlighted the project’s region-wide significance. Projects like this one on the Bahamas will strengthen the Caribbean “cybersecurity supply chain” and reinforce international cooperation to combat cyber threats, she said, thanking the Bahamian government for seeking ITU support and expertise.

Building skills and updating tools

Key project objectives include a National CIRT Readiness Assessment, a Cybersecurity Capacity Maturity Model (CMM), a National Cybersecurity Strategy and Action Plan, and all necessary capacity building and service upgrades to activate the national CIRT, said Bruno Ramos, ITU Regional Director for the Americas.

The project is set for full implementation by the end of 2022, with interim steps including six months of ITU support help the CIRT reach maturity.

The national CIRT’s skills and tools will need constant updating, Ramos added. “It is vital to equip the response team with new technologies, deploy additional services, provide technical training, and coordinate and collaborate with other international organizations.”

Learn more about ITU’s cybersecurity activities here.