There are no borders when it comes to a cyberattack. We saw this firsthand with the proliferation of the WannaCry and Petya/NotPetya global ransomware attacks in 2017. The global impact was staggering, and this will only continue to intensify as new cyber threats emerge. The annual cost of cybercrime incidents around the world will reach a projected $6 trillion by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Mexico is one such country that recognizes this issue, proactively taking steps to bolster its national cybersecurity posture.
The global trend of digitalization inherently implies increased vulnerabilities, risks and threats. Mexico is seeing this firsthand with significantly widespread use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the day-to-day activities of individuals, private and public organizations. Mexico has ranked as the second country in Latin America with the most cyberattacks, with a 40% growth in the number of attacks between 2013 and 2014 alone, and approximately 10 million victims in 2014. Additionally, the number of internet users in Mexico has expanded from 40 million to 65.5 million in just four years. Likewise, the number of identified cybersecurity incidents has tripled. Bridging the gaps in Mexico’s cybersecurity environment is an important task with implications for not only its population but also its government and economy. The government, the private sector, and citizens must be able to keep up with the constant innovation in the ICT sector, both as users and as possible targets for attacks.
According to the Organization of American States (OAS), two major trends in global cybercrime are fraud with economic motivations, and attacks against confidentiality, integrity and availability. Mexico’s robust economy and geostrategic location makes it an attractive target for illicit cyber activities. Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin America after Brazil with one of the highest GDP per capita in the region, and is the 12th largest exporter of goods and 4th largest producer of petroleum and other liquids in the Americas after the United States, Canada and Brazil. In its 2015 Report on Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure in the Americas, OAS noted that the critical infrastructure sector is emerging as an especially vulnerable attack vector, due to aging facilities and lack of comprehensive security systems. Mexico has 3,000 strategic installations, including its vast ports and transportation system. Bad actors could potentially target the system vulnerabilities at any of these locations. Such an event could have a devastating impact on Mexico’s network of ports, which is seeing an uptick in growth beyond the government’s $5 billion ports system investment. At the Port of Veracruz alone, construction for a new facility is underway in addition to 5 new terminals to meet surging manufacturing demand. This expansion will increase the volume of cargo handled at Mexico’s third largest port from 260 million tons to 520 million tons by the end of 2018 and expand contain capacity from roughly 900,000 20-foot equivalent units to 5 million TEUs by 2030. Overall, Mexican ports saw a 5.5% increase in cargo volume in 2016, outpacing the United States and Canada. Mexican ports handled 4.1 million loaded twenty-foot-equivalent containers in 2016 up from 3.9 million TEUs in 2015, according to the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation. Additionally, Mexico’s ports saw a 42% increase in finished vehicle traffic in the first five months of 2017 alone.
Cyber sustainability and resiliency are not only necessary for Mexico’s safekeeping but also important factors in its social and economic development. That is why Mexico is the latest Latin American nation to underline its commitment to fighting cybercrime. This past November, government officials presented its National Cyber Security Strategy highlighting the need for increased collaboration between enterprises that serve individuals, companies, and public institutions across Mexico. It also called for the creation of a knowledge center that will serve as a repository for the latest cyber threats and assist in the fight against digital crime. Mexico is engaging with its regional, national and international partners to combine multi-stakeholder initiatives and facilitate information sharing to bolster cybersecurity in the following areas: society and rights; economy and innovation; public institutions; public safety; and national security. The country certainly recognizes the global challenges of cybersecurity and is making inroads to combat it.