The Cybercrime Bill will be tabled in Parliament next month.
The final consultation regarding the National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) that was with the private sector and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) was held at the Chiefs Nakamal in Port Vila last week.
The nationwide public discussion led by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and other stakeholders began in August, concluding in October, and the Cybercrime Bill to be tabled in parliament in November.
Cyber Security Advisor of OGCIO Dr. Jeffery Garae answered what may have been the most basic question the audience had, ‘why does Vanuatu need such cyber strategies and who would launch a cyber-attack on Vanuatu?’
Dr. Garae answered: “Not only because Vanuatu is a small country we would not face (cyber) attacks on our infrastructure we are slightly smaller compared to a country like America or Australia, regardless of how big you are or how much wealth you have, with cyber security attacks we connect to the same internet, hence you can be a victim of cyber-attack.”
Despite there being no threat of a looming cyber-attack, the OGCIO officer said that necessary steps need to be taken to ensure Vanuatu’s cyber infrastructures are not left vulnerable, which the country is currently undertaking.
“To build frameworks around cyber security I think we are doing a great job on that and whether it is enough or not, I wouldn’t say but we are executing good steps going forward and I hope we can keep that momentum to protect our citizens and our critical infrastructure in Vanuatu.”
Personally, Dr. Garae noted that the government has grown in leaps and bounds towards the threats of the cyber realm and mentioned government also recognizes the need for such safeguards.
“I think we are doing some really good things with cyber space and security with government taking the lead, not only that but the government sees the importance and has a very good group of stakeholders who work together to put efforts in addressing cyber security, we have a very good progress moving forward.”
According to Dr. Garae Vanuatu only has a cybersecurity policy but nothing in development to protect the country’s cyber infrastructure, although when the National Security Strategy was launched in 2019, the fifth pillar spoke of cyber security which is why a strategy needs to be developed to fully protect the country from all types of attacks.
“We never had a strategy in the past, in the past we had cyber policy but in the policy mentioned one of the objectives of the recent development, the national security strategy launched in 2019 pillar 5 is on cyber security hence the need to develop this cyber security strategy.”
Dr. Garae added that there are six cybersecurity priorities which are “1st is cyber resilience, 2nd cyber security awareness, 3rd cyber security capability and literacy, number four is addressing cybercrime, five is international engagement and number 6 is cyber security standards, regulations and framework.”
The consultations and the bill that will be tabled next month is part of the sixth cybersecurity priority to develop legal frameworks to strengthen cybersecurity standards.
“If you look at this strategy it is under priority number 6 which is cyber security standards regulations and legal frame work, in that priority requires Vanuatu to develop legislations to support or provide guidelines for the work for addressing cyberattacks in Vanuatu.”
The 2013 cyber policy paved the way for the Cybercrime Bill, Dr. Garae believes such safeguards are essential for the security of the nation and its people – “Cyber security is everyone’s problem.”