Regional Cyber Security workshop underway in Tonga

Tonga Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva says that due to the borderless nature of cybercrime and the improvements in connectivity in the region, we are no longer excluded by our geographical remoteness.

“We too are susceptible to these attacks, whether it is a direct target or as mere collateral damage. According to the internet penetration for our region is 70%. This means that some 28 million of our people are directly vulnerable to online threats.”

Speaking at the opening of a regional cyber security workshop in Nuku’alofa today, Pohiva said this is not the only way cyber threats impacts out lives.

“Through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Regional Plans, and through each nation’s strategic plans, our respective governments and development partners endeavor to make a better standard of living for our citizens.”

“Various initiatives that involve high investments in infrastructure, Information and Management systems for informed decision making and utilization of ICT to enhance the way we do things and equipment and means aimed at ultimately improving our livelihood. Unfortunately, these too are potential targets for cyber adversaries,” he added.

He stated that the Government of Tonga recognized the above threats and has made various steps to assist in creating resilience to cyber threats such as the establishment of the cyber challenges taskforce in 2013 and Tonga CERT and its board in 2016 and Tonga acceding to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime last year.

The theme of the workshop is 'A Safe & Secure Digital Environment for the Kingdom of Tonga & it's Citizens.

The workshop is organized by the APNIC Foundation with support from APNIC and the Cyber Cooperation Program of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT).

Acting Australian High Commissioner, Ms. Rhona McPhee said that Cyber Cooperation is something that Australia takes very seriously, and is working closely with the Pacific Island Countries.

“Here in Tonga, we acknowledge the proactive efforts of the Government to improve cyber security systems and legal frameworks, the first Pacific Island country to accede to the Budapest Convention.”

She told the gathering that Australia’s first International Cyber Engagement Strategy launched by the Foreign Minister in October 2017 priorities and coordinates a whole-of-Government approach to international engagement across the full spectrum of cyber affairs.

“Supporting similar efforts in the Indo-Pacific our neighborhood, is a key focus of the Strategy. The Cyber Capacity Building element of the Strategy is support by the Cyber Cooperation Program – $14 million over four years, 2016-2020.”

Ms. McPhee also said that going forward Australia is supporting; projects to strengthen PNG’s cyber incident response capacities and capabilities, a regional cyber security breach workshop conducted by the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), cybercrime training workshops for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges in June conducted by APNIC and assistance for countries intending to accede to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.

“DFAT would welcome further aid grant proposals from Pacific Islands Governments for funding in the new financial (after 1 July 2018).”

The workshop is facilitated by Mr. Adli Wahid, Senior Internet Security Specialist from APNIC with participants from across the Pacific and local organizations in Tonga like the Police and Digicel.


Photos supplied by Digicel Tonga 



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