The Minister for Information and Communication Technology Honorable Timothy Masiu addressed 230 participants of the Pacific Security Conference around the world using the virtual technology via Zoom on Wednesday the 18th of November 2020 from his office in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
“Cyber security and cyber-attacks in this modern era is the most imminent and serious threat to a nation’s sovereignty and prosperity. This is because information and communication technology in this era is an integral part of public administration, global trade and social interaction.
”Minister Masiu stated that concurrently every Government is mindful that the use of ICTs or digital technologies, inevitably introduces correlative security concerns for individuals, businesses and the public sector that need to be addressed.
“As we become more dependent on technologies, we have seen criminals, states and others attacking them and that’s an unfortunate thing, Minister Masiu said.“There is a greater urgency or need to protect all our institutions especially our most vulnerable and critical institutions from cyber-attacks”. Minister Masiu stated that a nation alone cannot address cybersecurity challenges on its own. However it requires appropriate level of networking, collaboration and partnership including sharing of information in order for us to effectively protect our critical infrastructures, services and institutions.
“Protecting national security and promoting the prosperity of the PNG Citizen are among the Government’s top priorities as this Government recognizes Papua New Guinea’s success depends on its ability to harness these technological advances to drive economic growth and raise productivity and living standards for all Papua New Guineans”.
He also stated that the commissioned of the Coral Sea Cable between Australia and Papua New Guinea and the roll out of the domestic fibre network connectivity between provinces in the country has now enabled efficient broadband connectivity access to citizens, public and the private sector across provincial towns and cities as well as abroad.
“We are committed to progressing digital transformation and taking it a cornerstone of public administration including enabling our rural communities:• Access government goods and services through mobile phones• Have hospitals to be able to register births, and clinics and doctors to be able to register health visits or give a convenient appointment time for children to receive their vaccines• Schools to make registrations for students to be easy and convenient at minimal zero cost and without walking for hours or standing in long and winding queue; and many other service that brings Government directly to the people whom they serve.
Minister Masiu also shared the experiences Papua New Guinea learnt from the impact of COVID-19 that has completely changed the way people interact with the digital world. “As the internet becomes more accessible and affordable, issues pertaining to cyber safety, cyber security and cybercrime have emerged and require immediate Policy and operational intervention to ensure the safety of all citizens, their personal data and the data stored and collected by the Government”.
“For a nation like Papua New Guinea to protect itself against cyber security breaches and threats, it must develop appropriate policies and strategies to guide its effort and the policy must provide a clear coordination mechanism among key stakeholders at national level and at international and regional level, stated Minister Masiu.
“The Department of ICT has been instructed to facilitate and develop a cyber-policy and strategy that can guide us in this era to strengthening the Government of PNG’s cyber security capabilities and securing PNG from cyber threats.”
He stated that there is need for increase collaboration with the private sector, international partners such as the Government of Australia, our partners in APEC, and others in the Pacific Community to work with other international organizations such as the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, the Global Cyber Security Alliance and other cyber organizations.
“The Government of PNG has recently approved the restructuring of the Department of ICT to coordinate the digital transformation in the public sector and the Department will be working very closely with them to learn how we can better improve our capacity building”.
He added that the Department was also tasked to work on a digital government strategy, following a successful development and adoption of a Digital Transformation Policy as we seek to transform the country and create a Government that works better and costs less.
He said the aim now is to create a government that puts people first by serving its customers, empowering its employees and fostering excellence.
“While we are still developing our Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, I will be seeking Government’s endorsement to establish a Joint Cyber Safety Taskforce to oversight cybersecurity, cybercrime and cyber safety with an initial priority to protect the domestic cyberspace from cyber threats”.
Minister Masiu thanked all members of the Asia Foundation for organizing this important conference on Cybersecurity and wished them all success in the policy discussion over the next few days