The recent cyber-breach at TSTT, is the latest of several incursions reported recently by different State Agencies, which all point towards the comprehensive failure by this PNM Government with respect to our digital transformation and modernization. “This latest cyber-attack on TSTT and its mishandling by both TSTT and the Government leaves T&T prone to a deeper financial risk than just data exposure”, says Oropouche West MP, Dave Tancoo.
According to Tancoo, the absolute failure of the Government’s digitization and modernization effort, and the resultant cyber-attacks to several Ministries and Government Agencies present a myriad number of challenges, beyond the visible domestic impact.
There are other state agencies which have been hacked and which have not been reported in the public domain. MP Tancoo states, ” Yesterday it was brought to my attention that the Facebook page of state owned NESC technical Institute has been hacked months ago and the state is unable to deal with the problem. The NESC page has been advertising porn sites!”
The country’s IT susceptibility places us at a greater disadvantage since the risk to our global competitiveness and damage to investor confidence is an intangible factor that the Government continues to arrogantly ignore, says Tancoo. “The Government has offered tax breaks for cybersecurity investments by private businesses, but it seems that the government itself has failed to enhance its own cyber-security for the protection of the State’s systems and the privacy of citizen’s personal data.”
MP Tancoo says that in spite of the billions of taxpayers’ dollars the PNM has spent on IT security at Government Ministries and Departments, and seven hundred million dollars ($700,000,000) allocated to the Ministry of Digital Transformation over the last three fiscal years, we still lack fundamental protection against basic malware.
“The Minister of Finance has made a big deal about T&T becoming a cashless society, but clearly the Government is nowhere ready for such a move. If anything, these cyber-attacks prove, in actuality, how totally unprepared we are and how far off the Government is from its own stated plan.”
Tancoo believes that the Government should be leading by example, instead of finding itself the subject of international ridicule and dragging its feet in critical matters of digital transformation and modernization.
According to MP Tancoo “Despite TSTT’s repeated insistence that banking details were not leaked, there are now several media reports that individuals’ banking information were also leaked in this recent data breach fiasco.
This is a frightening situation for any person who uses TSTT to engage in on line transactions and payments, and has the potential to severely damage investor confidence in our economy.”
Tancoo says that, “Until this inept and untrustworthy PNM Government acknowledges and takes responsibility for their shortcomings, this is what citizens are faced with – a Government that continues to hide the truth from the people. While they continue to think that they can get away on technicalities and changing the narrative daily, T&T remains in technological limp-mode without the means to improve our situation.”