Experts and Authorities in the Region Hold Dialogue on Cyber Security at the OAS

WASHINGTON, DC – The Organization of American States (OAS), the World Economic Forum, and Georgetown University today organized a “Cyber Security Dialogue,” in which experts and government officials of the hemisphere exchanged experiences and discussed the priorities of Latin America and the Caribbean on the issue.

The Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin, opened the session highlighting that in Latin America and the Caribbean, “the number of Internet users in the past ten years has increased more than one thousand percent.” “Countless services on which we rely, and largely take for granted, including energy, transportation, security, banking, social services and many other systems, depend on the Internet and its connected networks to function properly,” added Ambassador Ramdin.

To ensure that these services continue to function well, faced with the threats of cybercrime, cooperation is essential, said the Secretary General. “Cyber security, much more so than many other fields, requires cooperation between the public and private sectors and other key actors,” said Ramdin. Therefore, he added, the OAS Member States adopted in 2004 the Comprehensive Inter-American Cyber Security Strategy, “a model of forward thinking and unity” which designates three bodies to work on cyber issues: the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the OAS, the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) of the OAS, and the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA), for which the OAS acts as technical secretariat.

The Secretary for Multidimensional Security of the OAS, Adam Blackwell, meanwhile stressed that “every day cyber security is becoming a more integral part of our lives,” and warned that terrorists and criminals “have shown a keen ability to manipulate the internet to outpace and outwit and governments, law enforcement agencies and, above all, individuals.”

The response to these threats, said Ambassador Blackwell, must include continuous collaboration and an appropriate allocation of resources. “For today’s dialogue to be effective,” he said, “the knowledge acquired here must be paid forward, and put to good use. I urge you all to take advantage of the space that this forum provides.”

The Dialogue, co-organized with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Georgetown University, consisted of two panel discussions. In the first panel, moderated by Catherine Lotrionte, Director of the Institute for Law, Science and Global Security at Georgetown University, the participants were Michelle Markoff, Senior Policy Advisor for Cyber Issues at the United States State Department; Alan Marcus, Senior Director of IT and Telecom Industries at the World Economic Forum USA;, and Patrick Jones, Senior Director of Security at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The panel discussed issues such as the need to confirm the applicability of existing legal frameworks to “cyberspace”; to increase the exchange of ideas and experiences between countries and regions; and the need to move from the concept of “cyber security” to one of “cyber resilience,” which recognizes that the fight against such crimes is not a single battle but a continuous struggle.

The second panel was moderated by Greg Nojeim, Director of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology at the Center for Democracy and Technology. It included Eduardo Jaen, Administrator General of the National Authority for Government Innovation of Panama, and Santiago Vasquez, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communication (Setics) of Paraguay. Both panelists explained the activities their countries are carrying out, their methods and philosophies on how to respond to cyber attacks, how to protect infrastructure, and how to develop the sophistication of their responses to ever-evolving attacks.

Peter Cassidy, Secretary General of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, concluded the Dialogue with an explanation of the group’s efforts to promote cooperation between academic, governmental and operational sectors to jointly combat, and also learn from, cyber attacks. He emphasized the importance of the public awareness of governmental efforts on cyber security, and invited the OAS Member States to intensify their collaboration by conducting joint exercises to respond to various cyber threats.

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