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Cybersecurity and national defense trends in Latin America

November 2019

All countries are affected by the digital economy and rely increasingly on digital infrastructure. However, this also means that related uncertainties and risks are growing and it is becoming more and more important to guarantee safety in cyberspace. The fast-paced evolution of this technology is leading to new challenges in the detection and management of these risks.

After the attack in Estonia, which shut down digital access for almost all of April 2007, states are more aware of the current threats to their digitally-based critical infrastructure. Cybersecurity, cyberdefense and risk management measures are at the core of the national defense agenda in almost every country.

Latin America has recently started focusing on cybersecurity regulations. According to the 2016 Cybersecurity Report for Latin America and the Caribbean issued by the OAS, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia have reached an intermediate score in the cybersecurity ranking, but their response to breaches is still limited.

In 2017, Chile and Mexico released cybersecurity policies which included civil rights, national security, cooperation, economy and innovation as well as infrastructure. Despite this, Mexico, Brazil and Chile suffered significant cyberattacks in 2018. Argentina, on the other hand, has focused on a programme to protect critical national infrastructure as a major part of their cybersecurity policy.

Colombia is also expanding its legal framework in this matter. In 2016, the country released its public policy on cybersecurity primarily for public institutions, creating a digital security risk management and enabling the deployment of a system of different levels of incident reporting. Despite this, the existing framework has not been enough. Earlier this month, the country announced a new policy which will involve digital literacy and cybersecurity awareness, cooperation between the public and private sectors, a centralised authority for cybersecurity and incident reporting and a registry of critical infrastructure. Changes to data protection rules and compliance were also announced.

The adoption of these measures to guarantee cybersecurity and national defense in Latin America will have an impact on businesses' compliance as it will be under stronger scrutiny. The main goal is to reduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities, foster cooperation and the use of new technologies in balance with civil rights. This might be an opportunity for enterprises that offer cybersecurity services and talent training but also for a new approach to tightening the regulatory framework around the world to protect the internet.


Portrait ofLorenzo Villegas-Carrasquilla
Lorenzo Villegas-Carrasquilla
Alejandra Soler