A report on the state of cybersecurity in the banking sector in Latin America and the Caribbean published by the Organization of American States (OAS) revealed that nine out of ten banking entities suffered cyber incidents in 2017, while 37% of the banks were victims of successful attacks. Most identified attacks were malicious code or malware to violate clean desk policies, and targeted phishing to access the bank’s systems. The report further stresses that extra-regional criminal and state-supported hackers target Latin American financial services. However, the report also found that Latin American cybercriminals rank among the best in the world when it comes to hacking ATMs, exporting their software to other parties, and providing additional services and training for criminal groups outside the region, especially in the U.S.
Even though Latin America and the Caribbean have hitherto seen less frequent sophisticated cyber-attacks than North America, Europe, and Asia, trends suggest criminal groups and local hackers will increase their activities in the region in the near future. Cybercriminals are not necessarily predictive and remain unrestricted by geography, which makes it difficult for individual banks to prepare effective defenses. Moreover, coupled with the fact that many Latin American countries lack legislation addressing cyber security, law enforcement is generally unprepared to track and detain suspects of cyber-attacks. The risk posed to financial entities is thus unlikely to decrease, prompting companies to adopt measures to bolster cybersecurity through professional services and dedicated consultancy.