Unsung heroes of T&T Cyber-security

Antonio Ventour, Bankers Association of Trinidad & Tobago, Roshan Mohammed, CipherQuest, Vashti Maharaj Head Legal, Min Science & Technology, Amos Sylvester, TTPS CCU. Photograph by Shiva Bissessar
Antonio Ventour, Bankers Association of Trinidad & Tobago, Roshan Mohammed, CipherQuest, Vashti Maharaj Head Legal, Min Science & Technology, Amos Sylvester, TTPS CCU. Photograph by Shiva Bissessa

Shiva Bissessar attended two sessions of the 2014 ICT Symposium and returned with this story about an some unsung heroes of the earliest days of national cyber-security management.

Inspector Amos Sylvester of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) Cyber Crime Unit (CCU), was the final presenter of the day and he presented an insightful presentation on the topic of Cyber Security, to a then dramatically thinned but none the less attentive audience.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of interacting with Inspector Amos, would attest to his soft spoken humble nature. But under his quite introspective demeanor lies a repository of knowledge on how to catch cybercriminals even when faced with limited resources and having to ‘bat in the crease’ when working with legislation which quite frankly has not kept up to speed with today’s technological advancements. With 4 pages of notes I thought I already had my story, but once he started to present I started jotting down his words of wisdom.

His ability to relate with and capture the attention of the audience with stern faced anecdotes of matters he has dealt with in the past is what makes him a good presenter. For instance, he empathized with any member of the audience who previously walked in to a police station to report a cybercrime incident (or any incident for that matter) only to be faced with an officer taking notes in a paper diary.

But he reassured that back office procedures of transcribing those notes into a database provide the TTPS with a wealth of intelligence going back decades. Another of the gems he offered was that Trinis are such a resourceful people and that some even try to scam scammers. He revealed that some people, who visibly have no direct linage to African princes, would respond to these ‘Nigerian scams’ trying to get the payout of hefty inheritances.

Inspector Amos accepts the parameters within which he must perform his functions and does not complain about it. He accepts the limitations of the law and points out how it can affect investigations; however he does not lay blame at the feet of anyone for these limitations.

In giving the audience an understanding of these limitations, he compared and contrasted the rapid way in which legislation was enacted in California to cater for the phenomenon of self-driving cars while lamenting the fact that twenty something later Trinidad and Tobago still does not have certain laws in place to deal with a situation involving certain Zoological personnel which confronted authorities back then.

However, he is not alone. In 2014, I’ve also had the good fortune to attend other meetings where I’ve meet Mr. Daniel Hernandez and Mr. Dale Joseph and also heard them speak about their experiences at the CCU and they are equally gifted and eloquent in their deliveries.

So I’d like to recognize the effort of these men of the TTPS CCU who are behind the scenes performing yeoman’s service in our fight against cybercrime. We don’t have to go looking overseas for innovative speakers…we’ve got great talent right here!


Shiva Bissessar
Shiva Bissessar

Shiva Bissessar of Pinaka Technologies  is a frequent contributor to TechnewsTT on matters of Information Security including Digital Economy and Cyber Security and is currently doing a study on digital currencies in the Caribbean as commissioned by the UN group, Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC

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