Fear of cyberattack is one of the main reasons why many people are reluctant to start using digital services, according to a leading global forum on international communications. Regulators should have the power to force operators to ensure their networks are both inherently robust and resilient to attack.
The Small Nations Regulators Forum (SNRF) is a subcommittee of the International Institute for Communications, consisting of representatives from smaller jurisdictions including Jersey, Bermuda, Botswana, and the British Virgin Islands and is currently chaired by the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA).
At its most recent meeting, in Miami, cyberattack was high on the agenda for SNRF delegates from all over the world, who agreed that small nations are at particular risk from ‘bad actors’ probing their networks from other jurisdictions.
Several delegates reported that there was a reluctance amongst customers to embrace digital services due to fear of the consequences of cybercrime.
Rory Graham (pictured), General Counsel to the JCRA and who chaired the meeting said, “Regulators have a key role to play in educating both telecoms companies and users on how to avoid being the victims of cyberattack and to address the fears some users may have of using digital services, particularly public sector services.
“We heard from several delegates at the meeting that high profile ransomware and other attacks are being deployed against public bodies in particular. It was also felt that many operators are insufficiently aware of the risk to their networks – and therefore to critical national infrastructure.
“One consequence of this is the continuing reliance on ‘old’ technology for the exchange of information rather than an uptake of online methods of communicating, particularly with medical or government institutions.”
In many of the nations represented at the SNRF, programmes have been initiated by regulators aimed at educating users, including children and vulnerable users, on the safest ways to use digital services.
Delegates agreed that it is important that telecoms regulators have the legal powers to ensure that operators meet their responsibilities in maintaining the resilience and security of their networks for the benefit of consumers and businesses.