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Get Safe Online Caribbean Cyber Heroes announced

The overall winner and ‘highly commended’ nominees have been announced in Get Safe Online’s ‘Cyber Heroes’ awards, run for the last three weeks in 12 Caribbean countries.

Toward the end of November, we launched the awards by asking people in the countries in which we have Get Safe Online websites to nominate someone who had ‘gone the extra mile’ to increase awareness of online safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Get Safe Online operates websites and has a network of local Ambassadors and champions, as part of the UK Commonwealth Cyber Security Programme, funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Since March, people and businesses around the world have turned to the internet in an unprecedented way, with technology replacing national and international travel, meetings, seminars and training, social events and much more. Everything from quiz nights to exhibitions and medical consultations to family chats have all gone virtual. This uptake in internet use, together with the fact that people around the world are worried about the physical and mental health, economic and financial outcomes of COVID, have created a perfect environment in which online criminals can operate.

Having publicised the awards on our country websites and Caribbean Facebook page, we were delighted at the response, with 20 nominations coming from seven countries. The field was very strong and some individuals received a number of nominations. The judging panel, which convened on Friday 11th December, comprised Get Safe Online’s Jenny Thornton (Head of International Relations) and Sarah Sawrey-Cookson (Communications Director) alongside John Hering (Senior Government Affairs Manager, Digital Diplomacy at Microsoft). The panel identified one overall Cyber Hero winner and three nominees to be highly commended.

The nominees were assessed on the following criteria:

- That they worked hard to help people stay safe online

- That they had gone above and beyond the call of duty

- They had a COVID-19-specific aspect to their heroic work

- The extent of their impact in their country, and how their work benefited several sectors of society

We congratulate our successful nominees and thank them for their tireless work to promote online safety in their countries. Here's what the people who nominated them said:

Winner/Cyber Hero 2020 – Jervis Dabreo, Grenada (top left, above) “He has been hosting a weekly zoom show on cyber security and has made great steps in getting Grenadian cyber ready, for lack a better term. As we move more into the digital space has a stood up and aided the Grenadian people in cyber readiness and general information which has aided them in transacting safely in cyber space. His focuses on things a such phishing and highlighting basic tools/ programs that users can use to transact safely in cyberspace.”

Highly Commended – Zamar Thomas, Dominica (bottom right, above) “Ms. Zamar Thomas was instrumental in creating portals to facilitate online information dissemination for the general public in order to have continuous communication between the public and the government agencies. Ms Thomas also volunteered her time working in the COVID-19 Hotline Center in the evenings. This is in addition to working her regular day time job. She was instrumental in creating the Dominica Health Questionnaire so that individuals could be pre-screened before arrival into Dominica. Ms Thomas is always eager to assist and readily available to do so after working hours or on the weekend. She assisted in the "Chat with Us" feature on the Government website all in an effort to reduce the foot traffic in government agencies. Her role as Web Developer was critical to the Government in its fight against COVID-19.”

Highly Commended – John Avery, Belize (bottom left, above) “He has always believed in technology and hosted the first ever Raspberry Pi Jam where teachers were trained to train their students how to use the device and come up with innovative ways to use the Pi. He also has hosted girls in ICT to promote girls to get involved in ICT as it is a male dominated area. He then decided that Belize needed cyber laws put in place and so he hosted the Cyber Security Symposium which was a massive event and was where the Cyber Security Task Force was created and he supported the Cyber Bill and the PUC's Justin Barrow helped to write the laws for this to happen. Mr Avery has been committed to the cyber security cause because he has a passion for technological advancement.”

Highly Commended – Daren Dhoray, Trinidad & Tobago (top right, above) “A pioneer in cybersecurity, over many years, voluntarily working with schools, government organizations, private entities and especially continuously working and reaching out to kids on enlightening them on the issues surrounding cybersecurity. Very active during the pandemic and going above and beyond to reach out to schoolchildren who are online.”