Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Chang: Cybersecurity improvements will attract more int’l businesses

Published:Monday | March 4, 2024 | 12:05 AMRochelle Clayton/Staff Reporter
Dr Horace Chang, minister of national security, speaks during the Global Services Association of Jamaica President’s breakfast forum in Montego Bay, St James last Thursday.
Dr Horace Chang, minister of national security, speaks during the Global Services Association of Jamaica President’s breakfast forum in Montego Bay, St James last Thursday.

MINISTER OF National Security Dr Horace Chang says investments being made to the country’s cybersecurity will ultimately attract more international businesses to local shores.

Chang, who was delivering the keynote address during the Global Services Association of Jamaica President’s Breakfast Forum in Montego Bay on Thursday, said extensive security measures, in the form of legislations, are being put in place to prevent the threat of cybercrime.

The minister pointed out that the Data Protection Act, which was passed in 2020 and has been in effect since December 1, 2023, is “undoubtedly one of the most contemporary pieces of legislation that we have”.

“In fact, much research was done and you have a good piece of legislation in data protection. It has a lot of requirements for compliance, but the office is there to protect and assist you in achieving this level of compliance, to protect the industry and to now provide a room for growth and development,” Chang explained.

He further pointed out that with the Data Protection Act, companies are required to make changes in the way they “collect, store and dispose of personal information”.

“It provides a necessary safeguard and operating framework for handling the personal information of our people, your clients and others,” said the minister.

Noting that there is a lot to gain from extensive and strong cybersecurity measures, Chang said the government has eyes on attracting various international businesses to Jamaica.

“We are positioning Jamaica to respond swiftly and effective to cyber threats so international business partners such as the Global Service Providers can feel confident that their investments in Jamaica are being protected. Cyberdefence is at the heart of our national development efforts,” Chang said.

The national security minister, however, stated that Jamaica has to first do the work before it can attract the investments from these key players into the island.

“There are big companies, not necessarily large in volume, but very important and sensitive operators in North America who want to ensure that we have the appropriate data protection mechanism before they come here. Some of these companies are not the high-profile ones. We know Amazon, Apple and Google, but there are some smaller, very sensitive companies,” the minister disclosed.

Chang added, “If we get them to come to Jamaica in large and significant quantity, it takes us to another level and we can attract the kind of business that we want to really grow and expand.

“If our cyberspace is not dependable, effective and has the appropriate response, we will lose opportunities. There are those who will not want to place their business in Jamaica.”

In the meantime, Chang said that significant improvements have been made in how the country deals with cybersecurity breaches. The minister pointed out that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has played a major role in the clamping down of lottery scamming in the country’s business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.

Lottery scamming reportedly started to rise in the early 2000s after the introduction of BPOs in Montego Bay. During that time, the personal information of individuals residing in the United States were believed to be stolen from the outsourcing sectors on what is known as “lead sheets”.

Since then, the methods have changed.

“They are using different techniques, which means we have to evolve our technology and improve our skillset on almost a daily basis. I understand that they do not move cash in bulk, they move cash in credit cards and they transfer it in different ways,” said Chang.

“Whichever means that can be identified in cyberspace, they will use it. They have wallets in the dark web to hide, so it’s a very complex and critical area in law enforcement,” the security minister added.