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Online blackmail thrives during pandemic

. Jul 03, 2020
Ransomware: Online blackmail thrives during pandemic Photo: Binarydesign/Shutterstock

Amid the worst pandemic in a century, cybersecurity experts are sounding the alarm about a worrying uptick in ransomware scams targeting Brazilian companies. Companies from all sectors are falling victim to criminals who break into their systems and make off with sensitive data, holding it ransom and warning companies that they will sell it to their competitors, or make it public on the deep web.

Between February and April of this year, cyberattacks increased by 333 percent, according to research by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. Victims of these attacks include major Brazilian companies such as CPFL, Cosan, and Arteris. The practice is growing at an alarming rate in Brazil, which accounts for 60 percent of identified attacks in Latin America.

Carlos Sampaio, IT manager at the Center for Digital Transformation and Innovation, told website El País that the increase in attacks during the pandemic is no coincidence. “We forced workers to work from home in a disorderly fashion, which is different from building a proper remote work office. This has placed companies at the mercy of all kinds of scenarios. This because companies were not willing to offer the same type of security structure in place in their offices at their employees’ homes.”

Thiago Giantomassi, a partner in mergers and acquisitions at Demarest, explains that publicly traded companies are the main targets because they are required to disclose important data. ”Information has value, take for instance the internet companies that work with the information for your business, like Facebook and Instagram.” The Brazilian Report has already reported on the new cybersecurity dangers faced by companies during the pandemic.

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Benjamin Fogel

Benjamin Fogel is a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American History at New York University and a Contributing Editor to Jacobin Magazine.

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