Economic boom puts country on the spot for hacker attacks, says F-Secure exec

Monday, August 8, 2011

The increasing importance of Brazil's economy on the global stage has made the country a hot spot for hackers and cybercriminals, Finnish security solutions provider F-Secure's Latin America president, Ascold Szymanskyj, told BNamericas

According to an F-Secure study, internet hacker attacks in Brazil rose 40% sequentially in Q2.

"We're now getting much more global attention, and that is also reflected in the increase in cybercriminal invasions," Szymanskyj said, noting the urgency of implementing procedures to control these events.

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The sharp increase in Brazilians accessing internet also contributed to the phenomena. "More people connected means more risks, especially when there are gaps in the security data policy and protection," he said.

In fact, in the past months different Brazilian government and authorities' websites have been affected. Hacker groups managed to breach the websites of the presidency, national geography and statistics institute IBGE, government tax system Receita Federal and various ministries, such as communications and sports.

In the latest attack, São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab's personal email account was compromised last week. A hacker - allegedly part of the same group that previously broke into government websites - posted a message criticizing the mayor and his administration.

This is not solely a Brazilian problem, though. Also last week, US software security firm McAfee announced that up to 72 organizations and government pages had recently been hacked, including the United Nations, the International Olympics Committee, and the US, Canadian, Indian, South Korean and Thai governments.

To face these virtual threats, Brazil's government has announced the creation of a cybernetic defense center. But that action must be followed with international coordination, Szymanskyj stressed.

"In addition to this effort, it's important for countries to share knowledge, as well as advance on revising laws governing electronic crimes to impose harsher penalties for cybercriminals," he said.


According to Szymanskyj, mobile device users are overall clueless of the risks involved when browsing the web on their smartphones and tablets.

The executive said the majority of users have a false sense of security and do not employ any security software or back up data.

On the other hand, cloud computing storage is much safer than physical storage, he added, thanks to the greater tiers of security involved.

"The first point is that the information is not [physically] close to the user's hardware storage devices," Szymanskyj said. "Also, the level of security implemented by datacenter companies is much higher than what a user could have in traditional backups."