IN A world of smartphones, artificial intelligence and digital systems managing everything from banks to the supply of water and electricity, cybercrime will become the number-one issue, said Prof Yufei Wu, programme leader of UTT’s Centre for Information and Communication Technology.
The statement came a week after Trinidad and Tobago's largest supermarket chain, Massy Stores, was subject to a cyberattack which shut down all its branches for days.
In a release sent to the media, Wu encouraged organisations to increase cybersecurity awareness, education and training among employees, saying 90 per cent of cybersecurity issues originate from human error within organisations, and not externally.
He added that the retail sector, which normally uses the latest technology and is now using online shopping to treat with the downturn caused by the pandemic, is one of the most vulnerable to cyberattacks.
“Cyber criminals are targeting personal information and payment data because that is where the money resides,” he said. “Stolen payment data can be used to make purchases of goods or sold on the dark web. Those who commit identity theft can use stolen personal information to apply for credit, file taxes, get medical services, or execute other types of financial crimes.”
He said these attacks could cause mayhem in people's lives, leading to product shortages, higher prices and more.
"The greater the disruption, the greater the likelihood that companies will pay to alleviate it.”
He said critical infrastructure is also susceptible to cyberattacks.
He also cited the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, which said there was a 30 per cent increase in demand for cybersecurity professionals, although the US had added more than 250,000 people to its cyber workforce.
“ISC 2 found that there are about 400,000 open cybersecurity roles in the USA and about 2.7 million unfilled cyber jobs globally,” he said.
While universities have been working to expand cybersecurity degree and certification programmes to fill this severe shortage, he said, some experts say more is needed.
UTT started a fully accredited MSc in cybersecurity programme in 2019, the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, Wu said.
The MSc offers programmes in hacking and cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity management, law and policy.