Rising threats to Pacific nations from cyber criminals have highlighted resource and capacity challenges for developing island nations, says ForumSG Henry Puna.
In his opening keynote to a regional cybersecurity meet this week, the Forum SG said cybersecurity issues were also topical at the recent UN General Assembly and again at the Pacific Summit with US President Biden in Washington.
“A clear sentiment that has emerged from the discussions over the last two weeks is the recognition that while the digital revolution has presented many opportunities, in particular, for the Island States such as ours, the challenges and complexities that come with the digital evolution, require specialised capacities to manage it,” he told the inaugural P4C (Pacific Cyber Capacity Coordination Conference) in Nadi, Fiji today.
“I am confident that we all recognize and welcome the increased level of support and capacity development in this area across the region. However, for partnerships to be successful, they must be targeted, coherent, and effective,” said SG Puna.
He pointed to the increasing threat of cybercrime in Pacific nations.
The Vanuatu Government’s IT system was effectively shut down late last year. The Republic of Marshall Islands faced a similar attack a few months prior. Millions of Australians have lost personal information in attacks on Optus and Medibank Private.
“Indeed, it is a sad fact that every day, thousands of criminals go to work with the sole intention of inflicting harm on innocent people across the globe, including here in the Blue Pacific Continent. We cannot, and will not, let them win,” SG Puna said.
He noted the launch of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, which features a vision of connectivity and digital transformation for the region. Access to affordable, safe, and reliable ICT infrastructure, systems, and operations while ensuring culturally sensitive user protection and cyber security is cited in the strategy.
SG Puna said combatting the “many challenges ahead in the way we develop, use and secure our technology” would be discussed by Forum leaders when they meet in Rarotonga to launch an implementation plan for the 2050 Strategy.
The implementation plan, he said, takes stock of the many efforts across the region already underway to address our most pressing opportunities and challenges, including in the cyber domain.
“It also sets out a range of key new actions that we as a region will undertake to move us closer to our leaders’ vision of a safe and prosperous region. ”
While the support and partnerships are appreciated, it is important to ensure effective use and benefits for the region, he told the meeting.
“Coherent and consistent coordination across the various partners will be key to the effectiveness of the support in this sector,” said SG Puna.
SG Puna urged partners at the meeting to support the theme of the workshop and ensure cybersecurity programs in the Pacific will gain from coordination and alignment with regional cybersecurity priorities. The inaugural plenary was also attended by the Fiji Deputy PM, Hon. Manoa Kamikamica, and Australia High Commissioner to Fiji, Ewen McDonald, who spoke at the opening formalities.
The inaugural Pacific Cyber Capacity Coordination Conference 2023 (P4C) wraps this Wednesday with some next steps for key international stakeholders here to gain first-hand insights on Pacific cybersecurity needs and priorities.
The P4C is funded by the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) and organised by The Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC) and the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE). –ENDS/ForumNews.