Undersea cable raises threat of a cyber attack

Tuesday September 10, 2019 Written by Published in Technology
To the internet criminal, Cook Islands’ geographical isolation poses no challenge at all. To the internet criminal, Cook Islands’ geographical isolation poses no challenge at all.

A top online security expert says faster, easier access to the Internet with the arrival of the Manatua undersea cable will also bring increased threats from cyber criminals.


KPMG’s Philip Whitmore says cyber security is a business risk that goes far beyond IT. “Uncontrolled, it can affect customer experience, investor confidence, operations, brand reputation and more.”

“Unfortunately we sometimes think that because we are geographically isolated from the rest of the world, that we’re isolated from the threats seen elsewhere. To the cyber-criminal, we are just as close as any other country.”

“The cyber security landscape and the associated threats are not new – the speed of evolution is what is changing. The global focus on cyber security is increasing rapidly due to many high profile and highly disruptive security breaches that have occurred.”

The Manatua cable is being connected up to Rarotonga and Aitutaki by local publicly-owned start-up, Avaroa Cable Ltd. Chief executive Ranulf Scarbrough said cyber security was a risk everywhere.

“It will be a bit of a culture change, learning new habits to protect yourselves,” he said.

“Making sure you do your updates on your phone and computer, it’s important people do this for virus protection.”

He said there was nothing to be afraid of – just the need to be prepared. Everyone was responsible for getting together and helping people learning new behaviours and skills to use online, including children.

Tamarind House, The New Place Café, The Rickshaw and La Casita Mexican Café were affected by a ransomware cyber-attack this year.

Manager Pasha Carruthers said the Phoenix virus entered their computers in attachments and locked them out of accounts, their point-of-sale system and the rest of their files.

“You could not open any file,” she said. “Although we didn’t lose everything entirely, there were a lot of hours involved recreating files, we are still haven’t caught up.”

Techtro Solutions IT consultant George Ngatikao said he had to “roll everything back”  to get the restaurants’ data back. But a month later, a second cyber-security breach occurred – there must have been a corrupted file still inside.

This time around Ngatikao rebuilt everything from scratch and reformatted the computers.

He advised vigilance: be careful of downloads and attachments, and if you don’t recognise the email or don’t know the person, just delete it.

KPMG is running a cyber-security seminar this week for local organisations on Thursday morning, at New Hope Church Hall, Tutakimoa

KPMG director Simone Fe’ao said the consultancy was focused on fuelling Cook Islands’ prosperity. “We believe by helping Cook Islands’ enterprises succeed, the public sector also does better, and our communities grow, that our country will succeed and prosper.”

If you would like to attend the work shop, please contact Simone Fe’ao on 20486 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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