Cybersecurity challenges for Cuba in 2024

Cybersecurity challenges for Cuba in 2024
Fecha de publicación: 
13 January 2024
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The growth in the use of Information and Communication Technologies, ICT, in Cuba, with over 8.4 million users connected to the Internet, of them more than 6.8 million through cell phones and an increase in electronic payments through the Transfermóvil and EnZona gateways, have become a breeding ground for cyber threats to increase, ranging from basic malware attacks to more complex intrusions. In this context, we will be talking with Daniel Ramos Fernández, director of digital business at the Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) and expert in computer systems and cybersecurity, about some of the challenges that are foreseen in the field of cybersecurity for 2024.

OPS: According to the cybersecurity company, Kaspersky, malware attacks against computers and mobile devices experienced an increase last year in attempted phishing attacks and banking Trojans in Latin America. The government, the finance sectors, and Internet users have been the most affected. From January to September 2023, through the National Cybersecurity Center and the Security Operations Center of the Cuban Telecommunications Company, ETECSA, more than 2,600 incidents were detected and managed, 70% involving natural persons.

These were associated with the occurrence of denial-of-service attacks, the sending and receiving of spam emails, malicious traffic generated by malicious code, scans of services and exploitation of vulnerabilities that have compromised websites and other computer elements and in the case of natural persons, cyberbullying, identity theft, and scams through digital social networks and electronic payment channels. In 2024, the main challenge is the implementation of effective actions to create a culture of safe and responsible use of ICT among executives, specialists and the population.

DRF: 2023 was marked by an increase in cyber-attacks worldwide, putting the security of companies and people's data at risk. Human error is one of the main causes of cyber incidents in entities, where violations of information security policies by those responsible for computer security and users of these technologies prevail. Weak passwords are used and are not changed in a timely manner; workers visit unsafe websites and system software or applications are not updated when necessary.

The use of services or devices without a security guarantee is another important factor that causes cyber incidents. In this regard, we have detected the use of unauthorized systems and devices to share data that is confidential. Another reported action was the installation of unofficial software on work devices. We must pay particular attention to all these problems in the next stage.

In several organizations and entities, it is necessary to create structures to address cybersecurity. In others, it is essential to make progress in the completion, training and management of area personnel. This year, the first engineers who are studying cybersecurity at the University of Computer Sciences, UCI, graduate. But we must speed up intensive short-courses, expand the number of universities with undergraduate, postgraduate and higher technical university training plans.

OPS: A major challenge is to advance research, development and innovation (R&D&I) in cybersecurity issues, with the involvement of actors with the possibility of contributing to this matter. While it is true that cybercriminals will continue to take advantage of advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accomplish their criminal goals, new opportunities are opening up for the development of innovative and effective solutions to protect our networks and services by taking advantage of AI and data analytics.

It is paramount the creation of state-owned cybersecurity entities providing comprehensive solutions and increasing the provision of services in different sectors. A priority will be to support the banking process with high levels of security for technological organizations involved.

DRF: Continuity in strengthening technological security in the banking system; in critical infrastructures linked to ICT, Operational Technologies (OT) and automation; the development of the national antivirus, Segurmática; the consolidation of national platforms such as toDus, Picta and Apklis that guarantee greater technological sovereignty and the improvement of the incident action model are issues that require the utmost attention.

I would add that the legal regulations in this matter require permanent updating, because new problems and technologies emerge at great speed that immediately impact cybersecurity. Today, the main regulation is Decree No.360; but we have to aspire to have a law as a higher standard.

OPS: This will be a year of consolidation of the work of the National Cybersecurity Group and its branch offices in other provinces in order to implement the corresponding actions for the protection of cyberspace in each province and municipality. In November 2024, the 3rd National Cybersecurity Conference will be held, with the participation of experts and specialists from several organizations and territories. The expected result must be in correspondence with the growth achieved in mobile telephone services, the Internet, the computerization of processes and the digital transformation of Cuban society.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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