The Belize National Cyber Security Symposium - just hearing the name it sounds like a lot of high tech talk for computer types. But, this symposium is actually about regular folks, because, with so many Belizeans now accessing the internet through mobile devices, the issue of internet safety inevitably arises. And we don't just mean safety of your passwords and accounts - we mean, how safe is your child while accessing the internet, and what measures can be taken if you're the victim of revenge porn, or cyber - bullying? All that factors into this forum which is a first for the Caribbean:...

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CaribNOG
"This is absolutely the first time such an ambitious undertaking has taken place in the wider Caribbean region."

Jules Vasquez reporting
And while there are often meetings about cyber security - this is the first to have such senior representation from a cross section of lawmakers and decision makers:

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CaribNOG
"What is happening here is unique because it brings together every single stakeholder under one umbrella for an entire week to look at cyber security as a national problem."

Hon. Mike Peyreffite, Attorney General
"The attorney general's ministry is fully in partnership with the Public Utilities Commission on this one no less than the solicitor general himself, Mr. Nigel Hawke who'll be spearheading the AG's ministry for this forum."

Kim Simplis-Barrrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children
"Social media platforms and chatrooms have become the new hunting ground for pedophiles, rapists and human trafficking. The internet is being used as a vehicle for gender-based violence and we're ill-prepared legally and otherwise to effectively address these issues."

Hon. Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice
"It has been determined that cybercrime and cyber issues must now have permanent place in judicial education. With impending legislation, that judicial education has to be fast tracked."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister
"And you have the commitment of myself as the deputy prime minister and you heard my colleagues representing the government here as well, being an active part of what is going on here. We will not drop the ball, we will ensure that this continues to be a priority for the government and people of Belize."

Ms. Adrienne Galanek, Charge d' Affaires, U.S. Embassy Belize
"Cyber space knows no borders and no one is immune to the threat of cybercrime or violence. We're all in this together."

Great urgency, but to do what? There are so many pressing priorities which are currently unattended:

John Avery, Chairman - PUC
"Individuals or organizations are always seeking new ways to invade your privacy, steal your information, to disrupt essential services."

Col. (Ret'd.) George Lovell, CEO Ministry of Home Affairs
"We on the government's side would be the first to admit that we are not near where we should be in providing the type of cyber security services that our various agencies are mandated to provide."

Hon. Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice
"The courts worldwide have struggled and really struggled to keep pace with the developments in information technology and the impacts of the processes that underline the system of justice. As conservative as the legal landscape is by tradition, it has not been an easy task to adapt."

And the government as the self-proclaimed the principal gatekeeper of state information is also racing to catch up with digital government service delivery:

Mike Singh, Chief Technology Officer, Office of the Prime Minister
"This government gateway will allow all government entities to access and share necessary data across a secure switch. The best analogy I can use to describe this for you is to visualize a network of roads all connected to a great big intersection so that travelers can change directions flawlessly without battle necks and unnecessary hindrances. So all government systems will then go through this gateway to be able to exchange information."

"An interconnected system will mean for example that tax audits will be crossed departmentally and the identification of land transactions between a citizen or business in government will be traceable and easier to audit. Not just with paper trails, but with digital fingerprints that can be tracked more efficiently and with greater accuracy."

And while that may happen in some cyber future which is still over the event horizon, this National Cyber Security Symposium is about acting now:

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CaribNOG
"This is not a talk shop, this is not just a seminar where there is one way speaking traffic. This is an opportunity to interact, to discourse, to dialogue about the issues that impact all of us."

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CaribNOG
"This event is looking at what are our most appropriate, most relevant local solutions this is discussion and information for action and the action here is clear. Belize has to take a new, more serious, more focused, more coordinated, more synchronized, more sustained-approach to cyber security. This is a meeting where we have to come up with actionable positions as it related to advancing Belize in terms of its capacity to protect its digital borders."

And that will be fleshed out over four days, which is when the work really starts to come up with a framework document:

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CaribNOG
"At the end of this week each group will report on the discussion outcomes. That will form the draft of this framework document but that actually also will just form the initiation point for a series of deeper more intense, more deliberate discussions within the stakeholder groups and as a national cyber-security task force to what the framing of an actual publishable position concerning Belize's national cyber-security priorities."

Come Out To Talk Cyber Security!

But one of the real priorities is to engage the public - specifically regular folks. The symposium runs for four days and tomorrow, there's a public forum. Wooding says he wants you to come out:...

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CaribNOG
"So today you are seeing suits and ties and people from different dimensions of society, but once we get into tomorrow's agenda where we break into specific forum, there is opportunity for the so called man on the street, the common member of society to come and sitdown and asks the questions that cannot be asked in any other forum. What does this mean for me? Not in technical terms, in practical terms. I have a child who I am concerned about in terms of how they use the internet. I have devices that I have brought into my home and I want to know how to secure it. I have these concerns and I want to understand how I can address it. Those are all parts of the structure of this week."

"What we are hoping to do and what we are intending to do is to literally send one message to the entire society and that message is cybersecurity is a real concern. Be afraid, be very afraid, but then be prepared, be aware, be informed, be educated."

You can also watch a livestream of the event - and you can find a link to that at

Channel 7