New to the podcast? Check out past episodes of Latin America in Focus and subscribe on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Stitcher.
They called it “El Hackeo.” Starting April 17, Costa Rica was the victim of a massive cyberattack that lasted over two months. The attack, perpetrated mainly by the pro-Russia Conti criminal gang, paralyzed all kinds of operations in the country, with over 30 ministries targeted. Government employees couldn’t get paid. Trade halted. Thousands of doctors’ appointments were cancelled. Conti initially asked for a ransom of $10 million. Costa Rica refused to pay and the attacks ended up costing the country roughly $30 million a day.
“This time [the attack] was on Costa Rica, but could have been to other major countries,” said Belisario Contreras, senior director of global security and technology strategy at Venable. Contreras, the former head of cybersecurity at the Organization of American States (OAS), spoke to AS/COA Online’s Chase Harrison about Costa Rica’s experience and Latin America’s levels of preparedness for cybercrime.
Contreras explained vulnerabilities in cybersecurity—as the case of Costa Rica shows—can cover all sectors, from finance to energy to health. Knowing that, he said governments, large multinationals, small businesses, and consumers alike must all take steps to be prepared especially in the digital era.