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@IDGConnect: Is South America prepared for cyberattacks?

Eduardo Diaz is president of Neosecure in Santiago, Chile, a cybersecurity company providing forensics, security monitoring, and intrusion detection to major banks, retailers, and other customers throughout South America.  Neosecure has offices in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and customers in other countries too. Given his position, Eduardo is well positioned to comment on the cyber security situation in South America and describe the region’s preparedness to fend off major attacks against its infrastructure.

Mr. Diaz speaks English fluently. Yet I have edited some of his direct quotes to fix grammar issues. (Had a journalist interviewed me in Spanish, the situation would be much worse.)
First question: I ask Eduardo whether South America is ready for a cyberattack against the power and water systems, the stock exchange and other critical infrastructure, and whether there is any kind of cyber command in each country.

He says, “We are seeing a growing number of attacks to the infrastructure. Some attacks are based on political issues. Someone from Chile attacks Peru. Someone from Peru attacks Chile and so on.” He is referring to border disputes between Chile and Peru and Chile and Bolivia. Chile and Peru have settled their dispute while the border dispute with Bolivia remains open and is particularly heated.
Regarding overall readiness he says, “We are in the early stages of protection. In some countries they don’t have a list, don’t have a protection plan. It’s not like the USA where they have a government plan. Here cyber-defense varies by country.”

Asked whether there are any cultural issues in South America that makes it difficult to fight cybercrime. Diaz said, “Cybercrime is easier when you have corruption. Corruption is huge. In Argentina, mainly.” Part of the problem is the detached nature of the internet where one is not dealing with people in person. It can turn Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde. Diaz says that in cybercrime people have a different set of morals than those on the ground. There are less cultural inhibitions. Anyone who reads the comments section of an online newspaper knows that first-hand. He points to those hackers in Mexico who executed their crimes from the comfort of them homes. “We see cybercrime growing very fast because the people’s ethics are different on the internet than the physical world.”

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