Latin America and the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to potentially devastating cyber attacks, yet four out of five countries in the region do not have a strategy in place to prevent the danger, according to a study jointly conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The international institutes have called on the regional governments to step up cyber security, saying that two out of three countries do not have a command and control center for cybersecurity. Another major handicap that the study found out is that a large majority of prosecutors in the region lack the capacity to punish cybercrimes.
Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago all have an intermediate level of preparedness, but lag behind more advanced countries like the United States, Israel, Estonia, and South Korea, the report says.
“This report is a call to action to protect our citizen and our critical infrastructure for the 21st century,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “Our region arrived late to the Industrial Revolution. We cannot miss the opportunity provided by the Digital Revolution. Because of this, cyber security must be a priority.”
According to the report, 16 countries in the region have no coordinated capacity to respond to incidents and just six have a structured program of education in cyber security.
“We have to regard cyber security like any other kind of security: an issue of the highest priority for our people, without which we expose ourselves to potentially catastrophic losses,” said Moreno.
The risks of abuse increase as the region joins the digital revolution. Latin America is the fourth largest mobile market in the world. Half its population uses the Internet. There are countries in Latin America that process 100% of their government purchases electronically.
And the risks will multiply with the advent of “The Internet of Things,” which will not only connect computers but link together a universe of smart devices and sensors that will monitor and control virtually everything we use every day, says the report.