The OAS Goes Beyond Borders to Fight Cybercrime

For those of you who are news junkies, you may have heard David Sanger on NPR (6-28-2016) talking about the “Brexit” and NATO.  Sanger, who is the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, said that the next war that NATO fights will not see tanks rolling across borders.  Rather, it will be fought with cyber attacks.

In our own hemisphere, the OAS is acutely aware of the dangers of cyber attacks on the critical infrastructure in our hemisphere.    Their concern is not just an idle worry.  They have the data to support the need for increased preparedness in all their member countries.

Belisario Contreras, the Program Manager for the Inter American Committee against Terrorism in the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, will be talking specifically about readiness concerns in our hemisphere  at the CELAES Financial Security Conference, to be held in Miami in October,.   His topic:  “Cyber Security – Are We Ready in Latin America and the Caribbean?”

 Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the IDB, which worked hand in hand with the OAS to produce the report, summed it up this way,-   “If readers are to take only one message from this 2016 Cybersecurity Report for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), it would be that the vast majority of our countries are not yet prepared to counteract cybercrime.”

Moreno puts the estimated cost of cyber crime worldwide at US$ 575 BILLION per year, or equivalent to 0.5% of global GDP.   In Latin America and the Caribbean, their share alone is estimated at US$ 90 BILLION  a year.     While Latam and the Caribbean are eager adopters of new technologies, mobile, and digital media, Moreno says that countries and governments are falling short in the prevention and mitigation of cyber crime and malicious activity.  Some countries are considered to be catastrophically vulnerable to attacks.

In his presentation at the CELAES Financial Security Conference, Belisario Contreras will share the country results based on the analysis of 49 indicators in 32 countries used for their study.   Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, the report shows that four out of five countries do not have cybersecurity strategies or critical infrastructure protection plans in place.  And two out of three lack command centers and cybersecurity control. It is very difficult to combat a cyber attack or react effectively if you have not prepared in advance and don’t have a strategy in place.

The OAS recognizes that the ability to combat cyber crime exceeds the capabilities of any one institution, which is why the they have taken a collaborative approach across borders, including both the public and private sectors.    To see a summary of their findings, go to

And don’t miss the opportunity to hear directly from Mr. Contreras at the CELAES Financial Security Conference on October 3-4, in Miami.