OAS prepares the Western
Hemisphere to tackle cyber crime
Colombian Deputy Minister of National Defense Yaneth Giha
The Inter-American Committee against Terrorism of the OAS (CICTE) organized a Regional Workshop on Best Practices in Security and Cybercrime in Bogotá, on November 28 to 30, which was attended by more than 40 countries from Americas and Europe, and had the support of the Ministers of Justice of the Americas - through REMJA meetings process - the US Department of Justice and the Government of Colombia.
Specialists from the FBI, Secret Service and the US Department of State, Scotland Yard, NATO, the Civil Guard of Spain and the government of Colombia, Canada and Brazil, were responsible for delivering the workshop.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Defense of Colombia, Yaneth Giha Tovar, and the Secretary for Multidimensional Security of the OAS, Adam Blackwell. During the opening ceremony Blackwell stressed the importance that cyber security poses to the security of the countries of the region, and highlighted the important work of the OAS in this regard.
The Deputy Minister Yaneth Giha invited other countries in the region to adopt national strategies on Cyber Security such as the one adopted in Colombia, which had the technical support of the OAS.
Workshop participants were divided into three working groups that discussed issues related to policy development in cyber security, strengthening of law enforcement related crimes to cyber crime and incident management.
For three days they discussed initiatives in coordination and information exchange between governments, international cooperation to combat cyber crime, and the development of strategies and policies to strengthen cyber security in the region.
During the workshop, a "table top" exercise was conducted which consisted in the simulation of cyber incidents. This practice sought to create awareness about the importance of cooperation and exchange of information between countries in the region. The participants of this technical working group were responsible for incident management. The workshop organizers devised an exercise which simulated coordinated attacks on critical infrastructure by groups of "hacktivists" in four countries simultaneously.
At the end of the exercise, participants concluded that without proper communication, information sharing, and trust between the Cyber Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT), mitigating attacks would have been very difficult. Therefore, the participants recognized that the countries of the Americas are exposed to this type of cyber incidents.
Meanwhile, the working group to discuss issues related to the development of cyber security policies concluded that political support at the highest level is essential in order to promote technical and policy initiatives to strengthen cyber security. In addition, it recommended the possibility of unifying practices, establishing standard communication protocols, developing strategies for collaboration with the private sector, and education strategies for the civil society, among other means, to seek the strengthening of cyber security in the region.
Likewise, officials in charge of developing legislation and enforcement in cyber crime offenses recognized the urgent need that every country has adequate legislation allowing prosecution of these crimes in the Americas, which in turn will strengthen channels of cooperation. In this regard, they agreed that it is essential that each country make a commitment from the highest levels of political authority to establish such legislation and coordination, which would include the possibility to have a 24/7 network to prevent cybercrime.
The workshop participants expressed concern about the high increase of cyber incidents in the Americas, which coincide with the exponential increase in number of Internet users in the region - more than 1,000% in the last ten years. In turn, it was stated that because today countries worldwide rely on technology, cooperation on issues related to cyber security is an indispensable tool to preserve security and peace in the hemisphere.
The countries that participated in the workshop were: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Suriname, Dominican Republic, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, Canada and the United States.