From: Organization of American States

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, noted that cyber attacks are taking place in the region with “frightening frequency, sometimes with far reaching and disastrous consequences,” in his remarks during the inauguration of a sub regional cyber security management exercise taking place at the headquarters of the OAS in Washington DC, in which Anne Witkowsky, the Acting principal Deputy Coordinator for the Bureau of Counterterrorism of the United States Department of State, also took part.

Upon opening the exercise, organized by the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the OAS, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin said “the timing of this event is critical,” as there has been an increase in cyber attacks in most OAS member states. “It is important to remember,” he said, “that these attacks do not discriminate between nations big or small, powerful or not, and can threaten the infrastructure of our nations in unpredictable and undesirable ways. Cyber incidents target all kinds of public and private entities regardless of political social or economic factors. Therefore being unprepared for an attack leaves our societies vulnerable.”

The exercise in responding to cyber security crises, which takes advantage of the OAS mobile crisis simulation laboratory, has three objectives, explained the Assistant Secretary General. First, it “will test officials’ abilities to analyze and mitigate the effects of a well organized cyber incident targeting various types of critical infrastructure.” Secondly, the exercise “will test communication mechanisms between countries when responding to cyber incidents,” and finally, it will “foster an exchange of best practices and lessons-learned in responding to cyber threats, both technically and at the policy-level.”

Since the first Crisis Management Exercise (CME), which was organized by the OAS in Miami in 2011, there have been seven more, in various countries throughout the Americas, noted Ambassador Ramdin. Today, he added, “the world is much different, much more complex, and our exercise has evolved to match those changing realities.” Among the adjustments made, said the Assistant Secretary
General, are an upgrade of the infrastructure of the mobile lab and the inclusion of policymakers in the exercises, to avoid “disconnect” between policy and technical personnel during crises.

“Cyber threats will continue in this Hemisphere,” said Assistant Secretary General Ramdin in his conclusion. “That is a reality which we can accept. The other reality which we have to establish is how we protect ourselves, how we prepare ourselves for that situation.” The senior OAS official expressed in particular his gratitude to the United States for its support of the program, which he said had made the mobile lab “a meaningful reality.”