My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Jamaican Hackers attack JDF, JCF as Science, Energy and Technology Ministry predicts more Ransomware


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jamaican Hackers attack JDF, JCF as Science, Energy and Technology Ministry predicts more Ransomware

“Yes, the country security entities, the JDF and the JCF, were affected by a malware threat earlier last week. Luckily we were monitoring our systems, as is usually done, but now with much more vigilance since the recent worldwide ransomware attacks which affected over 100 countries and which crippled so many important systems”

Ministry of National Security statement on reports of hacking of the JDF (Jamaica Defense Force) and the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force)

Hackers are now attacking JDF (Jamaica Defense Force) and the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force).

What's interesting here is that these hackers are Jamaicans or at least reside in Jamaica as noted in the article “Attack on police, army”, published Sunday, May 28, 2017 by Karl Angell, The Jamaica Observer.

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Luckily Jamaica's IT Task force was able to spot the hacking attempts as noted by the Ministry of National Security in their statement, quote: “As a result of this vigilance and our usual checks, we were able to minimise the effects of our malware attack. At this point, I can fairly accurately reveal that our systems, which come with many different and varied software protection, especially firewalls, held up well. Plus, we were able to quickly take action, which assisted greatly in countering the offending malware. Further, I can say that the systems at the Ministry of National Security were not affected by this attack”.

We're also lucky; apparently those local Jamaican hackers were just playing around and aren't into the business of extortion, quote:  “We did think about that aspect when we became aware of the malware attack on our security systems, so we made exhaustive checks, and right now the answer to the question is no, we have not received any ransom requests, but we are still in the process of checking; so right now, the answer is no, no ransom request.”

So is this something Jamaica should worry about?

Ransomware and Jamaica - Expect more in the Summer of 2017

It definitely is as it could have been much worse.

Jamaica's Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley gave an accurate description of ransomeware, quote: “Ransomware is a type of malicious software that carries out an extortion attack on computer files by blocking access to data until a 'ransom' is paid. If users do not pay in time they are threatened with the deletion of their files. The ransomware is usually spread through various means, including e-mail attachments or malicious links within an e-mail”.

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According to Computer Incident Response Team Dr Moniphia Hewling during a presentation to the NSC (National Security Council) on Friday May 26th 2017, Jamaica has lost some US$100 million to cyber-criminal activity. The incidence of cybercrime has been on the rise in Jamaica, prompting chair of the NSC, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, to raise this issue to the level of Cabinet.

His aim is to allocate resources to increase Jamaica's ability to deal with the rising tide of cybercrime. Worse, there are now free Wi-fi hotspots spreading across Jamaica as part of our smart City initiative as noted in my blog article entitled “How Free Wi-Fi and Smart City upgrade coming to New Kingston in Q3 2017”.

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Perhaps a rethink of security measures needs to be put in place. Dr Andrew Wheatley has warned Jamaicans to secure their computer systems. He's predicting more ransomware WannaCry-esque attacks in a few weeks time.

So my fellow Jamaicans, be prepared as a storm is brewing on the internet this summer of 2017!!
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