“See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! –  2 Corinthians 6:2

The agricultural revolution, which took place in the 18th and 19th centuries, was a period of agricultural development which saw a massive and rapid increase in agricultural productivity and vast improvements in farm technology. Farming and farm machinery have continued to evolve.

This evolution must continue so that we can reduce the escalating import bill and feed ourselves. Caribbean small scale farming faces several issues which are debilitating and prevent the sector from reaching its full potential. Factors such as timely access to appropriate sources of financial  capital resources for investment and a lack of technical and business knowledge are examples of these issues.

The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes and overlapped with and complemented the agricultural revolution.  The need for this synergy is still true today. The Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) is a period in human history characterized by the shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on information computerization. The onset of the Information Age is associated with the Digital Revolution, just as the Industrial Revolution marked the onset of the Industrial Age.

It is the reality that The Information Age has brought with it E-crime which involves the use of computers, computer networks or the Internet as a tool for performing criminal activities or as a target for a criminal activity. E-crime is also known as cybercrime, online crime, electronic crime, Internet crime, computer crime (i.e. Identity Theft, E-commerce scams, Services scams, Financial Fraud, Privacy, Personal Data intrusion).

There was a report in the press last week that an ATM cybercrime event took place in Barbados and practically everyone in Barbados has either been logging onto their bank’s website, or making their way to their financial institution of choice to see if they were one of the persons hit by the ATM bandits.

Other reports suggested that these recent events should in fact make us recognise how vulnerable we all are in this age of technology and the need for not only the local banking sector, but also individuals to do their utmost to protect their assets. Twenty years ago no one would have thought that ATMs and point of sale machines would have become as popular as they are today, yet they are, and we have been told that it is safer to walk around with these plastic ATM cards and credit cards than cash. Nevertheless, given the events of last weekend, the onus is on each and every one of us to engage in some measure of caution to protect ourselves. There are things that we can do to safeguard our money online. In addition to not giving our passwords or pin codes to anyone; we should be cautious when sharing computers; shred any documents that have personal information on them before disposing of them; and monitor bank accounts and credit cards regularly so that you can report any suspicious activity the moment it happens.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

Once again the Caribbean Cyber Security Centre has reminded us that October is Caribbean Cyber Security Awareness Month with the theme “Be Aware, Be Proactive”.

They have issued the following information: “It remains critically important to engage all Caribbean public and private sector stakeholders – especially the general public – to becoming more aware of the many internet risks, threats and vulnerabilities facing us daily at home, school and work.  Based on regional cyber security incidents within the last 18 months “everyone” in the Caribbean has a role to play in promoting effective cyber security as cyber criminals and predators have targeted the Caribbean regionConstantly evolving cyber threats also require the engagement of all Caribbean citizens in following international cyber security best practices and standards — from government and law enforcement to the private sector and most importantly, the public.

Cyberspace is woven into the fabric of our daily lives and the world is more interconnected today than ever before. We enjoy the benefits and convenience that cyberspace provides as we shop from home online, bank using our smart phones, and interact with friends from around the Caribbean and world. However while the benefits of the internet outweigh the negatives, the negatives from cybercrime and online sex predators must be addressed.  To address the Internet negatives the Caribbean Cyber Security Center is committed to raising cyber security awareness in the Caribbean and to working across all levels of government, the private sector, and internationally to protect against network compromises, and child internet exploitation. Additionally we have developed a regionally focused Child Online Protection Program (COP) based out of Barbados called “THINK, CLICK, SURF” (www.thinkclicksurf.com).

We believe that our children are our most valuable assets and have a human right to survive, develop and reach their full potential, without discrimination, bias, favouritism, or exploitation via the internet. This interpretation is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which pledges the fundamental rights of every child. Additionally we believe that Caribbean initiatives like ‘One Laptop Per Child’ which aim to help expand the minds of our kids through technology must be done in a socially responsible manner,  with emphasis on providing the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of the Internet to both teachers and students. In September we officially launched our COP program in Curacao and Jamaica, with more to come in the months ahead”.