With the emerging threat that cybercrime poses, top regional security officials are looking at working together to secure the cyberspace of the Western Hemisphere against such attacks.Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Patrick West, and SOUTHCOM Chief Admiral Kurt Tidd at the media roundtable last weekLast week, Guyana hosted the 16th Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) – a forum sponsored by the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). It provided a platform for high ranking military officials from across the region to get together and discuss critical security issues.At a media round-table at the end of the two-day conference, Chief of SOUTHCOM, Admiral Kurt Tidd, told local reporters during the forum that the regional participants had the opportunity to discuss cybercrime, and recognised that this is the new domain in which illicit actors are beginning to operate.Admiral Tidd said a commitment was made for the regional representatives to come together to exchange best practices, and to understand how they can defend their respective networks.“We did not settle on a schedule yet, but we are very much interested in talking with each other because every country has critical cyber infrastructure that we are all interested in protecting,” the SOUTHCOM Head asserted.During the opening of the two-day conference, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Patrick West, pointed out that global connectivity has created conditions for dependence and inter-dependency on cyberspace.“The region has experienced and continues to be challenged by increasing threats of cyber-crime. The security forces are in many instances way behind the perpetrators of these crimes, and we need — now more than ever — to be able to be in step with, or ahead of, this new level of technological challenge within the region. As their network grows, ours must grow stronger. As they find ways to exploit security weaknesses, we must strengthen our bonds,” he asserted.According to Brigadier West, the security forces, along with concerned partners, must seek to find new initiatives to deal with the various emerging challenges, and find ways to break their linkages.“We cannot wish away these issues, nor must we allow ourselves to develop any level of inertia. We must be energised to disrupt the information flow and lines of sustainability of organised criminal networks,” he stated.In doing its part to combat cybercrime, Government had tabled the Cybercrime Bill of 2016 in the National Assembly, and the piece of proposed legislation is before a Parliamentary Special Select Committee for review.The Cyber Crimes Bill caters for, inter alia: illegal access to a computer system; illegal interception; illegal data interference; illegal acquisition of data; illegal system interference; unauthorised receiving or granting of access to computer data; computer- related forgery; computer-related fraud; offences affecting critical infrastructure; identity-related offences; child pornography; child luring, and violation of privacy, among a slew of other offences.The draft legislation outlines that a person commits an offence if he/she intentionally, without authorisation or in excess of authorisation, or by infringing any security measure, accesses a computer system or any part of a computer system of another person.It also states that a person who produces child pornography for the purpose of distribution through a computer system; or offers or makes available, distributes or transmits child pornography through a computer system, commits an offence.Meanwhile, in March of this year, acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine had announced that the Police Force will be establishing a cybercrime unit. He was at the time speaking at the commissioning of a computer training centre at Eve Leary which was named Zara Cyber-Security Centre.According to the acting Top Cop, cybercrimes have become the opportune choice of criminals, hence the need of specialists dedicated specifically to combat such activities. To this end, he noted that the Centre would be utilised to provide capacity-building to deal with cyber threats, something which he recognised demands a multi-stakeholder and long-term approach.Ramnarine had identified the Centre as the most resourceful location to equip ranks with the necessary skills and competency to have an informed approach to tackle cybercrimes.