PM launches Tonga National CERT

Tonga’s Prime Minister Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva has launched Tonga National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Tonga National CERT becomes the very first national CERT in the Pacific established to address and respond to computer incidents, raise awareness and building capacity of ICT professional.

Director of APNIC, Paul Wilson in a teleconference call from Australia during the event said he was pleased to be part of the special event as Tonga launched its first national CERT.

"It is an honour to be part of the launching of the Tonga National CERT which is the first national CERT in Nuku'alofa and in the Pacific Island Nations."

Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said the Information and Communication sector in Tonga has developed significantly over the years but the vulnerabilities to ICT-related incidents also increased.

“Tonga have come a long way in developing its Information and Communication sector to where it is today. We have increased household percentage for every mobile phone from less than 10 per cent about 10 years ago to about 80 per cent right now,” he said.

“Despite all these important developments our vulnerability to incidents such as hacking, identity theft, phishing, virus, scams also increased.”

“To combat and reduce our vulnerabilities and criminalize misuse of computers, internet, phones; we need modern legislation, we need capacity and expertise, and we need to establish appropriate institutions such as the Ministry responsible for Communication, Regulator and a body such as CERT.”

Tonga National CERT operates under MEIDECC’s Department of Information and the team would be the government’s point of contact for cyber security issues that affects businesses and individuals in Tonga.

CEO of MEIDECC Paula Povalu Ma’u said the establishment of CERT aimed to ensure a safe digital environment for Tonga.

“CERT would provide a safe and secure digital environment for Tonga and its citizens through coordination and collaboration with stakeholders to detect and manage cyber threats in a national level,” he said.

Mr Ma’u said CERT would manage ICT-related incidents and provide proactive action to prevent such incidents.

“CERT’s main tasks included handling of ICT-related cases such as data leakage, computer viruses, hacking and vulnerabilities in applications and hardware. They would also provide proactive action to prevent ICT-related incidents to reduce the impact,” he said.

“Tonga National CERT is a trusted source of information and the team will provide advices in many forms such as written advisories to sectoral briefings and onsite consultation and support if needed.”

According to Mr Ma’u the team offers a range of services including phone and email support, technical guidance on mitigating cyber threats, incident response support and coordination, information sharing and capability building.

Tonga National CERT acknowledged the help of APNIC, Council of Europe, Sri Lanka CERT and Mauritius CERT in helping Tonga to establish its national Computer Emergency Response Team.