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Cyber attacks in Latin America: A risk for businesses

With the coronavirus spreading around the world, online scams, ransomware attacks, and phishing email schemes are also getting more serious These highlight the threats hackers can pose to people, banks, and even government departments. In this Pacific Prime Latin America article, we will take a closer look at the cyber attacks in the region, as well as what can be done to cope with the threats.

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A new wave of cybercrime in Latin America

While Latin American governments are struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, they are largely unprepared to counteract cybercrime with cyber defense mechanisms, regulation, and compliance policies vis-à-vis the rest of the world. 

As governments impose strict quarantine measures, people have become more active in online consumption, thus increasing the number of targets for phishing and malware schemes.

For instance, a ransomware app called COVIDLock has spread across Costa Rica in March. This app claimed to prevent contagion by providing interactive maps of the virus’ spread, but in fact, hijacked victims’ devices and demanded a ransom in the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

Meanwhile, criminals in Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Mexico were taking advantage of people’s fear of the coronavirus to perpetrate phishing scams with promises of government stimulus funds, or COVID-19 tests and vaccines. These emails in actuality were designed to collect sensitive personal information, which could be utilized by cybercriminals to commit insurance and identity fraud.

In Colombia, during the weekend before the official lockdown, 160 cases of cyber-fraud have been reported, which is a 60 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Drivers behind cybercrime across Latin America

Earlier this year, a cyber intelligence firm investigated the persistent phishing campaigns and cybercriminal activities throughout the region, and found several triggers.

First, the local economic problems, which were exacerbated by global trade conditions, have caused great hardship for many youngsters. Consequently, they resorted to cybercrime as a means to earn money.

Second, despite the high usage of the internet among a large population, the cybersecurity awareness level remains quite low. Worse still, there has been little government security regulation mandating internet companies to improve their own security. Critical infrastructure in the financial, energy, retail, entertainment, logistics, and technology sectors are also at risk. 

Third, bribery and corruption within law enforcement and government agencies are rather rampant.

Fourth, cryptocurrency has the effect of globalizing cybercrime, removing the money transfer barrier for the cybercrime syndicate. Given that more advanced Latin American hackers are collaborating with well-established and cash-rich drug cartels, people are worried that Latin American hackers will not be confined to Latin American countries only and will start proliferating to other parts of the world.

How can companies increase cyber security?

In the face of the rising risks for data breaches and cyberattacks, businesses should increase their investment in cybersecurity, such as arranging security awareness training for employees. This way, they can ascertain their employees follow cybersecurity practices and avoid common vulnerabilities that may attract cyberattacks.

Furthermore, they should secure cyber insurance to protect themselves against the potential financial loss associated with data breaches and cybercrime. Some common benefits in a cyber insurance policy include data compromise protection, identity recovery protection, and cyber protection, and more. 

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More information about trending insurance topics

With the motto of “simplifying insurance”, Pacific Prime Latin America is dedicated to explaining complex insurance ideas and jargon in plain language. That’s why we’ve compiled a wealth of resources for our readers including blogs, reports, and guides. For example, our State of Health Insurance report 2019-2020 sheds light on key figures and compelling experts’ insights into the developments of the insurance landscape such as artificial intelligence (AI).

If you’re looking to secure private health insurance, retiree health insurance, or other types of insurance, don’t hesitate to contact Pacific Prime Latin America. You may also use our online quotation tool or talk to our specialists for a free plan comparison and plan quote.