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Belizean among cyber heroes recognized

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Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2020. 4:42 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: The nominees for the Get Safe Online’s inaugural ‘Cyber Heroes’ awards have been announced today.

The overall winner is Jervis Dabreo of Grenada while Highly Commended awards were given to Zamar Thomas of Dominica, John Avery of Belize and Daren Dhoray of Trinidad & Tobago to recognize their instrumental efforts towards keeping their citizens safe online.

In November, Get Safe Online launched the awards by asking people in the countries in which they 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.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, commented, “Having publicized 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. Thank you to all of you who made a contribution – in our eyes, all the entrants were, in fact, Cyber Heroes.”

The judging panel, which convened on Friday December 11, 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.

John Hering Senior Government Affairs Manager, Digital Diplomacy at Microsoft added, “The work of these individuals is nothing short of remarkable. As people everywhere have been navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have helped to ensure that connecting to the online world – for work, for learning, and for staying close to family – can be safer and more secure. They are owed a debt of gratitude for going above and beyond in their efforts and have certainly earned this recognition as “Cyber Heroes.”

The overall winner and the Get Safe Online Cyber Hero for 2020, Jervis Dabreo of Grenada, commented, “From being nominated as a Cyber Hero of 2020, and now winning; this is not why I do what I do, but it is exhilarating to be recognized for it. Thank you Get Safe Online. The mission of empowering this and future generations of netizens to be safe online continues.”

 “As more of us have been forced to work online during this pandemic, it is more crucial now, more than ever,  that emphasis be placed on online safety. This is because, out of need and not choice, we now share more of our information over the internet and as a result, run the risk of that information being accessed and used for alternative purposes,” Zamar Thomas of Dominica expressed.

Highly Commended Belizean John Avery plays a critical role in promoting the importance of online safety within his country.

“I do believe that online safety is extremely important during the COVID-19 pandemic, not just because we all are more online currently, which increases the potential for cyber threats, but because of the many similarities in dealing with both issues. Both represent a real and present danger, both involve an invisible enemy, both require personal responsibility and diligent monitoring, both require timely identification and isolation of threats, and both require cooperation across all sectors of society,” Avery said.

Finally, also Highly Commended, Daren Dhoray of Trinidad & Tobago said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to be online more than ever before. We are posting more content, uploading more documents, hosting more video calls and even playing more games. Each digital citizen therefore needs to be more vigilant online to protect their personal information and devices as the hackers too are becoming more sophisticated than before.”

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.

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