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IDB-OAS: Efforts to improve cybersecurity in the Americas increase, but work is needed

Report highlights efforts made by governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to manage cyber risks to their critical infrastructure, and exposes the challenges remaining, particularly for building user trust in E-commerce services

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today launched the joint study Cybersecurity: Risks, Progress, and the way forward in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the second edition of a report that assesses the state of cybersecurity readiness in the region.

According to the report, since the last study carried out in 2016, more than half of the countries of the region have improved their cybersecurity mindset by developing and implementing national strategies and/or legal frameworks to better respond to evolving cyber threats, including increased protection of citizens’ personal data.

Further efforts still needed

However, the report also revealed that further efforts are still needed to strengthen cybersecurity in the region. More than three-fourths of the countries observed in this report currently lack the critical infrastructure protection plans necessary for responding to cyberattacks, a particularly worrying fact in a COVID-19 context. The majority of the countries of the region are also in need of more systematic and efficient capabilities to monitor and respond to cybersecurity incidents, as well as central bodies tasked with coordinating cybersecurity activities.

While important shifts in funding were detected, even greater governmental resources should be dedicated to help reduce the social and economic impact of cyber incidents, which in 2019 alone cost over $90 billion dollars.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the document highlights the need for more active cooperation among all stakeholders for increasing their cybersecurity readiness, particularly to address some common threats such as cybercrime, cyber intrusions into critical networks, and politically motivated cyber operations.

“The message of this report is clear: Latin America and the Caribbean need to do more to improve its cybersecurity situation now,’’ said Ana María Rodriguez, the IDB’s Vice President for Sectors. “The findings are crucial to guide government efforts in the region, especially as the COVID-19 crisis accelerates our reliance on digital platforms in our professional and personal lives.”

For Farah Diva Urrutia, OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security, “this report can serve as a roadmap for Member States and diverse stakeholders who are continuously looking for ways to adapt to emerging cybersecurity threats affecting our region. Although there is still work to be done, we are proud to be supporting the development of these capacities through our Cybersecurity Program and will continue to promote awareness of this issue, together with important partners such as the IDB.”

The IDB and the OAS present this joint report as a sign of their continued commitment to supporting the countries of the Americas in their efforts to strengthen cybersecurity.

The second edition of Cybersecurity report is available here.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Besides loans, grants and guarantees, the IDB conducts cutting-edge research to offer innovative and sustainable solutions to our region’s most pressing challenges. Founded in 1959 to help accelerate progress in its developing member countries, the IDB continues to work every day to improve lives.

About the OAS

The Organization of American States (OAS) is the main political forum in the region, bringing together all the independent nations of the Western Hemisphere to jointly promote democracy, strengthen human rights, promote peace, security, and cooperation and advance in achieving common interests. Since its origin, the OAS has had the main objective of preventing conflicts and providing political stability, social inclusion and prosperity in the region through dialogue and collective actions such as cooperation and mediation.

More Information

IDB
Miguel Porrua
Coordinator Data ad Digital Government Cluster
mporrua@iadb.org 

Ariel Nowersztern
Cybersecurity Specialist
arieln@iadb.org 

OAS
Belisario Contreras
Manager, Cybersecurity Program
BContreras@oas.org

Kerry-Ann Barrett
Cybersecurity Program Officer
KABarrett@oas.org

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