Brazil, Peru and Mexico saw the highest number of cyber attacks in Latin America in 1H14, especially during the World Cup, according to Russian IT security specialist Kaspersky Lab.
Many of the attacks were aimed at stealing money and financial information, and the higher quantity was due to the large number of tourists traveling with their smartphones to other cities and countries, according to Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky recorded 32mn incidents of local attacks in Brazil which affected 43% of internet users there, followed by Peru and Mexico where 39.8% and 25% of internet users respectively were affected by local threats, Kaspersky said.
Events such as the World Cup and the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines plane in March prompted heavy internet traffic, which naturally meant that cyber criminals had more opportunities to infect computers, Roberto Martínez, a Kaspersky security analyst, told BNamericas.
For example, many people around the world would search for World Cup matches on their work computers, and would inadvertently install malware embedded into buttons or video feeds, Martínez said.
In other cases, users were lured into downloading malware by being offered bogus soccer tickets on certain websites.
Bank trojans are an especially common type of malware in Brazil and Kaspersky said it registered about 87,500 financial malware attack attempts in Latin America during 2Q14.
"Banking malware in the region is evolving and has become more sophisticated, since cyber criminals commercialize knowledge with their counterparts in eastern Europe and other countries," Kaspersky said.
In both Brazil and Peru there is an increasing emergence of cyber criminals, and in the coming months there will be more attacks on smartphones, especially as people in maturing markets such as Peru and Mexico buy more handsets, he said.
Attacks directed at cloud services will also become more common, as well as cyber espionage campaigns against governments, embassies and companies in certain sectors, Martínez added.
He recommended that companies create a culture of IT security, in which employees are discouraged or prevented from downloading content and accessing pornography and piracy sites where malware is common.
Companies should also have measures to protect employee devices.
"The simple fact that someone comes to work with an infected smartphone can compromise the network of an entire organization," Martínez said.
"The size doesn't matter - any company can become a target," he added.
Kaspersky also said in a release that a cyber espionage campaign called Machete has targeted over 778 victims, including governments, military, law enforcement agencies and embassies.