The American Chamber of the Commerce of T&T (AmChamTT) has entered into an agreement with Indiana University of Pennsylvania for technology workshops t0 help safeguard local businesses against cyber terrorism.
AmChamTT president Ravi Suryadevara said as part of the 20th Health Safety Security and Environment Conference (HSSE) conference next month, the group will host two full-day workshops to heighten the awareness and advance measures to combat cyber espionage. He said that type of threat to the business sector could not be ignored.
His concerns were reinforced by IBM Corporation chairman, CEO and president, Ginni Rometty, who recently described cyber crime as the greatest threat to every company in the world.
Suryadevara said: "In 2015, Lloyds, a British insurance company, estimated that cyber-attacks cost businesses as much as $400 billion a year. As a result of this, they indicated that the demand for cyber insurance has grown considerably in recent years. The transfer of data within countries across borders is what drives today's global economy. Data transfers allow consumers access to the best available technology and services. It allows businesses, both big and small, to access inputs, as well as access to billions of potential customers all over the world.
"As we seek to digitise the various ministries and state agencies, while we acknowledge the benefits this will have in strengthening these organisations, we must be wise to mitigate the risk involved as well, issues related to cyber security and physical security, both of which represent growing operations costs for an organisation."
Commenting on calls by service station operator for a re-balancing of the fuel subsidy to account for margins that had not been indexed to inflation or any other changes over the last decade, the AmChamTT president warned that if the state failed to deal with these inefficiencies, a large portion of the business community would be stifled and inevitably go out of business.
"If margins are not reasonable, how can these companies adequately invest in the health and safety innovations that are integral to ensuring the safety and competitiveness of their operations?" he asked.
"We urge the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries to revisit these archaic regulatory policies and make a concerted effort to engage in dialogue with the members of this industry. Many were grappling with simply staying afloat, while balancing their commitment, their employees, health and safety and the environment. The psychological and physiological stress of working in an unsafe environment has a tremendous impact on employee morale and by extension productivity."
Suryadevara added: "The resulting loss of work time leads to disruptions in production and can significantly damage a company's reputation. The resulting costs to the economy can make the country appear less competitive and by extension less attractive to foreign investors.
"As the leading business service organisation focused on trade, investment and export, we continue to encourage the business community to look outward, to Latin America and the Caribbean. To achieve this, we must be aware of the various industry standards, increase our ability to adapt and have the capacity to service these markets without compromising the health and safety of workers or harming the environment."