The Ransomware Plague: Is LATAM Surrendering to Digital Extortion?

This Research is the third part of the AdvIntel LATAM Series. To see other blogs within this series please visit:

Part 1: Latin America Threat Landscape: The Paradox of Interconnectivity

Part 2: Cyber Exploration: The Geostrategic Quest of APT Groups in LATAM

Part 3: Economic Growth, Digital Inclusion, & Specialized Crime: Financial Cyber Fraud in LATAM

Key Takeaways

  • Latin America is plagued by the constant barrage of ransomware attacks. One in every three ransomware attacks in the world targets a Latin American country. This article of AdvIntel’s LATAM series provides the tools to analyze such information. As such, this data does not come as a surprise to the attentive reader – who is, by now, well aware of the deep flaws in the cybersecurity structures of the region.
  • Flawed systems and remote access servers – especially relevant due to the widespread smart working modality (an outcome of the pandemic) – are the two main entry points to attackers. Attackers who manage to breach the companies’ systems can launch malware variants, encrypt files, and proceed with financial extortion. Yet, simple tactics such as phishing emails are also employed in ransomware attacks in the region. This manual type of infection has decreased in popularity, but it still represents 15% of all ransomware attack vectors in LATAM. Finally, the most common malware variant employed in LATAM is WannaCry – a malware variant that has given rise to an authentic Latin American variant, WannaHydra.
  • The Latin American threat landscape is shaped by the region’s socio-economic features and the evolving technological intra- and extra-regional scene. The recurrence of ransomware attacks is another facet that unveils the deep flaws in LATAM’s cybersecurity infrastructure. The COVID-19 added a new layer to the already challenging scenario, with the spread of remote work and new possibilities of network breach.
  • Targeting specific sectors is also a new trend in the ransomware attacks phenomenon. This represents a new challenge to critical/essential industries and public agencies, since data breach may signify not only negative impact in service delivery (and potential subsequent crises) and financial losses; but these actors may also face judicial challenges due to data exposure and consequential infringement of data protection laws.

Read the analysis by Beatriz Pimenta Klein on AdvIntel.

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