bmobile urges Local IT network users to be more cyber security conscious
IBM’s 2018 Threat Intelligence Index revealed that in 2017, a single data breach cost businesses an average of US$3.7 million and by 2019, the total cost of cybercrime would reach an estimated US$2 trillion. While financial services, ICT and Manufacturing are the three most attractive industries for cybercrime, the size of the company is seemingly inconsequential as the number of cyber-attacks against small business is on the rise. From 2016 to 2017, there was a 6% increase in attacks against small businesses; from 55% to 61%. Now, more than ever, business owners are urged to adopt a robust cybersecurity system that protects against loss of data, revenue and reputation.
As the national communications provider, TSTT has to ensure that government and private citizens’ data remain safe, even as customers choose what telecoms service they want, when they want it and at the price they want. TSTT Chief Information Officer Paul Mayne shared this perspective on a panel, last Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, hosted by Dell EMC to share with businesses and IT Specialists the transformative business solutions Dell offers, as a digital technology provider. His co-panellist was the CIO for University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, Nazir Alladin, with Dell Regional Sales Manager Emmanuel Lopez acting as moderator.
Mayne told the audience of IT specialists and businessmen that Trinidad and Tobago has to become more serious about IT security. “TSTT manages the network not just for commercial and residential customers but for the Government, Police Service and hospitals so security is absolutely paramount.” Mayne explained that TSTT designs and implements security protocols at each step of its services “in multiple layers.”
“We physically protect our data sets. We monitor and manage our web traffic, and we constantly test our applications. Any new application that comes in has to be certified to a certain standard,” he told the audience emphasizing, “We put a big wrap around our data.”
In addition, the Company shoulders the responsibility of protecting the country from phishing and other cyber-attacks. “The other telcos do not have that responsibility, but we do,” Mayne said. “We handle a significant amount of payments for almost 1.4 million customers.” And such extensive protection comes at a cost. “It is not inexpensive but you cannot skimp on security,” he said, particularly with regards to encrypting bank data about credit cards and cheques. “We work with the banks, to make sure what they transfer across the network is protected as well.”
The versatility of mobile’s to be used more and more for business is an added dimension to cyber risks. Mayne observed that the typical SME owner wants the capability to do high-end computing on their mobile phone, as well as carry out accounting and sales management tasks via mobile. “Most of our services are being driven by devices now,” he said. “So we have to cover all of the bases as fast as these business trends mature in Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said the partnership with Dell EMC has made it easier for TSTT to adapt to customers’ needs. “When you have a partner that sits down and understands what you need before you ask for it, that is important, and that is what Dell does for us,” he said.
But customers and partners of TSTT also need to play their part. Mr. Alladin was also of the view that users of telecom services need to be more aware. He said users at UWI are constantly reminded of the need to be aware of cyber threats. For him, training and education are important components to helping users spot risks and recognize any signs of phishing, and to react appropriately once they recognize it.