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Without a doubt, increased investments in human capital would go a long way toward enhancing Latin America's cyber capacity.
FREMONT, CA: Microsoft reported that a Chinese hacker outfit known as NICKEL had targeted vast areas of Latin America's public and private sectors. Before Microsoft disrupted its activities, NICKEL had acquired and kept access to a large number of economically and traditionally valuable targets. The cyber-espionage campaign highlights how foreign powers have substantial interests in Latin America and are eager to gather intelligence to aid endeavors like the Belt and Road Initiative.
While state-sponsored cyberattacks concern Latin American countries, the region's most frequent and severe threat remains cybercrime. Not only have financially motivated gangs targeted organizations across the region, mainly with ransomware, but they have also expanded their operations to a global scale. Latin American countries are strengthening their cyber preparation, as demonstrated by Brazil's publication of its first national cybersecuritypolicy in 2020. Still, their ability and knowledge remain woefully inadequate to combat the region's panoply of cyber threats.
While fifteen nations have developed national cybersecurity strategies, considerable work has to be done on cyber capabilities. The region should emulate the success of Israel and South Korea in developing their cyber industry. In this manner, the academic and technological communities can become more specialized in cyber concerns, local firms may expand their competence, and governments can hire and even export the services of local businesses. If Latin America strengthens its cyber capabilities, it may be able to provide enhanced skills and human capabilities to the United States and other developed countries in need of cybersecurity. Additionally, this could have a beneficial effect on social and economic difficulties.
A 2020 research conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the Organization of American States (OAS) found a significant impediment as a lack of trained people capital. The most beneficial investment would be to provide access to American schools and other training institutions for persons from Latin America and the Caribbean to learn cybersecurity methods. As is prevalent throughout the world, educational institutions in the region cannot keep up with demand. As one compelling example, Florida International University in Miami offers continuing education classes in English and Spanish for working hemispheric professionals. The second most effective investment would be for cybersecurity firms to establish regional branch offices. This would offer public and private sector businesses professional cybersecurity capabilities and help create local cyber talent for office employment.
From a policy perspective, there is a need for cyber capacity-building initiatives to bridge the divide between technical security specialists, civil society, and policymakers. Non-state actors, particularly civil society organizations, can and have played a critical role in tracking national policy developments. However, private-sector corporations and governments must be more aware of how civil society is a component of the threat landscape. Human rights defenders should be able to participate in policy discussions and have the tools necessary to protect themselves—regardless of whether they work in cybersecurity.
Education, training, and apprenticeship programs would significantly impact developing capacity, narrowing the cyber skills gap, and increasing the number of people entering the cyber talent pipeline. This might be transformative for both the skills deficit and public awareness of cyber dangers, given the region's experience with cybercrime and fraud during the epidemic.
Without a doubt, increased investments in human capital would go a long way toward enhancing Latin America's cyber capacity. Governments should seek to develop possibilities that connect academic programs and career prospects, such as encouraging graduates to launch new cybersecurity projects, such as collaborative ventures with public institutions at all levels of government. That would be excellent, given the low level of interest in revitalizing decaying yet data-intensive public bureaucracy. The region is youthful, entrepreneurial, and, perhaps most significantly, boasts competitive university programs. These must result in hands-on experience developing and managing cybersecurity capabilities.