"Cyber security is no longer an option, it is mandatory for us to get up-to-date,” said Daidre Leacock.
Daidre Leacock, the Business Development Officer at the Caribbean Israel Centre for Cyber Security (CICCD), has appealed to Barbados, and other Caribbean countries to strengthen their cybersecurity infrastructure. The appeal came on the heels of the European Union (EU) introducing the cybersecurity legislation known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.
“There is no room for error… It has great implications for the region as it is now. Cybersecurity is no longer an option, it is mandatory for us to get up-to-date,” Leacock warned.
She added: “This is not a situation that we can take for granted, especially for offshore companies. While Barbados may have some offshore companies here, they indeed are going to be highly impacted because if any EU citizen is hacked and their information is out there, they [the company] will be fined.”
Emphasizing that Caribbean countries were highly susceptible to hacks, Leacock said “the onus is on organizations and companies to become compliant. Make sure they have the information ready and data secured. It’s going to be more expensive to pay a fine than to become compliant.”
The law, which takes effect on May 25, elevates personnel data to the level of being an asset, according to Caribbean 360. Any entity, including government or private, that retinas the information of any EU citizen or business will be required, by law, to implement technological measures to protect the information under the GDPR.
Failure to comply will result in a fine for the organization or company if the information is compromised or lost during a cyber-attack. The penalty would be up to four percent of its global turnover, or up to 20 million Euros, approximately USD $23.6 million.
The GDPR also stipulates that any breach, as well as the names of those affected, must be reported to the EU's data protection authorities within 72 hours.
Andre Thomas, the Chief Executive Officer of CICCD, advised that authorities in the region make the proper legal arrangements to boost cybersecurity in the face of increased cyber-attacks in the region.
“They’ve been major hacks recently in the last six weeks. There was a major hack in St. Maarten, another one in Guyana….We’re aware of hacks taking place all over the region. And they’re mostly underreported,” he revealed on Wednesday.
With cyber attacks on the rise across the Caribbean, Thomas has urged authorities in the Caribbean to make provision by enhancing legislation and law enforcement capacity.