A CSIRT Covering the Pacific Island Nations

"Bula" every one!! You will probably find it easy to assume from the context that this word means “Hello”, but can you guess what language it is?

It is Fijian.

Mr. Koichiro (Sparky) Komiyama and I (Kaori Umemura), as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) experts, were given the opportunity to visit Suva, the capital city of Fiji, to support the preparation to kickoff the Pacific Islands Computer Emergency Response Team (PacCERT), under the JICA's technical cooperation project "USP-JICA ICT for Human Development and Human Security Project".

The PacCERT aims to be a trusted point of contact for information and Internet security response affecting 22 Pacific Island countries. Their office will be located in the JapanPacific ICT Centre in the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva.


JapanPacific ICT Centre

During our 2-week visit in mid to late July, we had meetings with parties of interest to PacCERT including the PacCERT Board chaired by USP, government officers, telco/ISP sector, banking sector etc., to draw up the supporting plan on PacCERT operation. Through the meetings with the parties, we learned that computer incidents in the region are coming to the surface and reaffirmed the need of PacCERT.

Sparky delivered a keynote speech entitled “Internet Security and Mission of PacCERT” at the Information Security Session of SPICTEX 2011, the first of its kind in Fiji and the region, and shared his views on the need of CSIRT and PacCERT. We believe that the speech helped expand the awareness of PacCERT’s existence to its potential constituency.


Sparky at the Podium

 History of PacCERT and its Partner Organizations

To briefly review the PacCERT’s history, the necessity of CSIRT in the Pacific Island was first advocated in 2007 by various groups in the region, including Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC). After the idea of establishing PacCERT was endorsed by Pacific ICT Ministerial Forum 2009 held in Tonga, the Working Group and the partner organizations (the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, AusCERT, ITU, IMPACT, JICA, JPCERT/CC, USP/JapanPacific ICT Centre etc.) maintained close contact for consultation. And in 2010, with an extensive contribution by ITU, AusCERT and the Australian government, the PacCERT Business Plan was finalized and approved.

With such continuous efforts by the interested parties, the PacCERT will have their personnel and infrastructure very soon. Following the well-conceived business plan, JPCERT/CC as the JICA expert wishes to support PacCERT with what we are good at; to provide them with the system setup support, technical training and outreach activity support until the end of 2012.


A Flower Market in Suva

Challenges of PacCERT

The Pacific Island nations are geographically dispersed and have large variances in population size and Internet connectivity/penetration. There are only a handful of other regional CSIRTs in the world and as far as we know, none of them are operationally focused. This, combined with the large variations in population of the Pacific Island nations that are involved, makes PacCERT a unique situation.

In such a situation, we believe it is important to “think big, start small and start now”. PacCERT has already got their big goal in their business plan, so the next step is an immediate start in a small scale. A limited number of services being successfully delivered, will provide a strong foundation for the PacCERT and enable a smooth transition into a full CSIRT operation.

As one of the partner organizations of PacCERT, JPCERT/CC appreciates your close attention and cooperation to this new regional CSIRT!


A Palm Tree by the Seashore

- Kaori Umemura -