Dec 10, 2019 News Comments Off on Lands and Surveys Commission faces cyber attacks… Police called in
By Kemol King
The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) revealed that it has been on the receiving end of many cyber attacks throughout the year.
During its annual end of year press conference, the agency’s Commissioner, Trevor Benn, told reporters that one such instance was so serious that the Commission resorted to involving the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
The Information Systems Division headed by David Cole assured this publication that the attacker was not able to compromise the Commission’s data, but was able to access the Private Branch Exchange (PBX) telephone system, a network used by organisations.
Cole said that as soon as the Division noticed that the attacker was attempting to take control of the network, it reported the incident. The police are currently investigating.
Other cyber related attacks on the Commission are mainly done by spoofing and phishing.
The strategy involves the imitation of another entity, to fool a user into clicking on a link or giving away certain information.
Cole explained that “if [one clicks the link sent to them in an email, they can] compromise the system.”
“They send emails to the Commissioner’s account and several of our users’ accounts in the Commission and are trying to have you download something or clock on a link that can [allow them to] then do some mischief.”
Benn said that he has to allow the Information Systems Division to inspect his account weekly because the mail Cole describes as “mischief” are received so frequently.
He also explained that it is difficult to identify the source of these attacks, because they are being sent through an email account.
“We usually send the information to the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), and then those email addresses are blocked, until the next incident occurs.”
While the Commission is trying its best, it can’t completely eradicate this sort of problem. Once someone knows the email accounts used by Commissioner Benn and his staffers, that person has the ability to send mail to them. When one email address is blocked, the person can simply create a new one, Benn added.
Benn assured reporters that nevertheless, the Commission’s sensitive data is safe. It is constantly working along with the NDMA’s cyber-security specialists.
But this kind of matter could only get more difficult for the land management body from here onward. The Commission now has a “heightened national and international profile,” according to Benn.
To provide a greater ease of service, the Commission has embarked on a mission to digitize all of its records.
“We have begun our transition from a paper-based agency to a more digitally oriented one. It is our firm belief that digitization of the various physical records will help to ensure a more efficient and sustainable administration of our national patrimony,” said Benn.
The GLSC is working on developing and implementing an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) to manage correspondence received by the Commission; training staff to create a digital archive as well as to digitize records; and rolling out nationwide computerized receipting, which will allows clients to access invoices and receipts that are generated from the centralized accounting system, allowing for improved record-keeping and accountability.
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