12 October 2022


In commemoration of Cybersecurity Month, the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) launched its Cybersecurity Awareness Month of activities on October 5 at the National Library, Port of Spain.  The launch, which was attended by staff and other specially invited guests, was also streamed online.


NALIS’ theme for its month-long observance is Secure at Work, Secure at Home. Weekly sensitisation sessions will be held online for members of staff.  Topics will include: Cybersecurity 101, Doh Get Phish! Protecting Yourself from Phishing and Ransomware; Lockdown: How to be Secure at Home, and Family Matters: Access Granted – Secure Access to Apps and Data.  Additionally, there will be sessions for secondary school students titled: Let’s Talk it Out – How Do Protect Yourself on Social Media? and for primary school students, Stop Cyberbullying and To be a Cyber Hero.


While delivering opening remarks at the launch, Paula Greene, IT, library and information professional and executive director of NALIS said, “As information professionals we have always been acutely and keenly aware of the delivery of information as well as the importance of the protection of personal information and private data in the library online environment.” She added, “As a socially responsible organisation, NALIS has been doing its part in educating persons on how to mitigate risks and protect information and information resources.”


Also speaking at the launch were Sherwin Ragoonanan, deputy chief executive officer (Ag.), Anthony McCollin, senior security and assurance professional, both of iGovTT; Daren Dhoray, digital anthropologist of CyberSafeTT and Wendel Mitchell, chief digital officer of the Ministry of Digital Transformation. 


Like all the speakers, McCollin emphasised the importance of observing extreme safety and security while online. He said, “In the same way you will not leave your homes open when you go out, you should not leave your cyberspace unattended.”  In referencing the WiFi router, he asked the audience how many persons changed their usernames and passwords on their devices.  Unfortunately, not many answered in the affirmative. He said, “It is important that we change the user name and password on the devices because hackers can infiltrate the devices and access personal information.”  He also cautioned against the use of passwords such as “passwords” or “123456”. He said that hackers can brute-force attack these and as such will have access to a person’s digital environment.


In delivering the feature address, Dhoray said that many organisation were caught off-guard and were unprepared due to the overnight shift to work from home during the pandemic. He said that most organisations took things for granted. Employees emailed work documents to personal emails, stored documents in a free-file storage applications or shared passwords with colleagues. These and the absence of policies on strong passwords in the workplace made it a perfect environment for a cyber storm.  He also cautioned against using infected external storage devices on work computers which may cause viruses to spread across networks.  He talked about using free Wi-Fi as hackers set up fake Wi-Fi to resemble litigate ones.   He advised that if one were to use an open WiFi, before connecting, initiate a virtual private network (VPN) which allows users to recreate secure, encrypted connections over the internet.


The vulnerability of data was dramatised in an entertaining skit put on by staff of the Information Networks Division of NALIS, the Division leading this Cybersecurity initiative.  Jasmin Simmons, deputy executive director (Ag), NALIS wrote and performed her spoken word piece in keeping with the day’s theme.