Surging cyberattack figures, including threat detection levels that grew by a reported 240% in Q3 of 2020 and 208% in Q4 according to anti-virus platform. McAfee, place global business practices in peril. In Latin America, the IDB says that ill-preparedness in countries including Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, mean organizations run the risk of becoming victim to devastating cybersecurity. In 2019, US$90 billion of damage was done, the IDB estimates.
This rising level of threat, says Gabriel Croci, Latin America IT security head at Tata Consultancy Services, is a primary factor behind TCS’ recent choice to select the city of Queretaro, in Queretaro State, to host its first Threat Management Center in Latin America.
“In the past, global companies with presence in Latin America had different maturity levels of security [to operations in other global regions]. Now, they want to be aligned with all the offices they have in Europe, Asia and the US. This is why this area is growing so much over the last six months,” said Croci.
An Altered Cybersecurity Landscape
TCS’ new Threat Management Center will bolster the protection that the massive global IT services company can provide its clients, both at a local level and within the Nearshore region, explained Rajeev Gupta, head of TCS’ Nearshore LATAM efforts and country manager for Mexico.
“The new threat center allows us to work more closely with clients, to understand their needs and to build a very specific, context-based and tailored cybersecurity solution for them,” he explained.
With the addition of the Queretaro site, for which “organic investments” will be made as time passes, TCS will have a total of 12 centers worldwide. The company expects to hire an additional 500 engineers for the site that already has 2,000 employees dealing with 50 global and Nearshore clients.
TCS’s global client list includes some of the world’s leading brands across every major industry, from AstraZeneca in pharmaceuticals, to Deutsche Bank AG in finance and global conglomerate GE, each of whom have been earmarked by attackers in the past. The companies’ prominence puts them centerstage for hackers who are particularly targeting remote employees during the work-from-home period. Banking is under particular threat of attack say experts.
This environment of heightened risk pushed TCS to change its stance on security, says Gupta. Moving the company’s 400,000 worldwide employees to work from home highlighted the very serious threat that lax security protocols generated in a truly global company. This experience partly informed TCS’ shift on cybersecurity matters.
“Our framework for cybersecurity was “trust, but verify”. Now our framework has changed to “never trust, always verify,” Gupta said.
The new Queretaro site will enable the company to get closer to its clients and to monitor their applications and systems in real time while providing all services in the local languages – English, Spanish and Portuguese – which the company could not do beforehand.
“We see how we can jointly design their applications that are adaptable, risk based and context aware,” said Gupta.
“There Will Always be Hackers”
With the new center, TCS will aim to provide Security Operations Center (SOC) management, vulnerability management, vulnerability and penetration testing, and advanced threat management, explains Croci. The real-time supervision run out of Queretaro will enable TCS to safeguard the systems and sensitive data of clients on a continuous basis, he says. Croci accepts that no system is ever entirely secure, particularly when human error plays a significant role in attackers gaining entry into IT systems, but that with closer levels of services, attacks can be thwarted before far-reaching damage can be inflicted.
“There will always be hackers and there will always be cyberattacks,” Croci explained. “The key is knowing how to manage security when an attack occurs. Security cannot only be preventative because it is almost certain that a company will be attacked at some stage. Managing is the difference, and analytics, data loss prevention and other software to close the company’s door and shut down the risk.”
“There will always be hackers and there will always be cyberattacks” — Gabriel Croci
Security reconciliation and ongoing dialogue with remote workers are important pieces in the security puzzle. The increasingly digitalization of the world’s business activity and the restrictions that Latin America faces to achieve leading digital capabilities, means constant monitoring is needed to reduce threats, said Gupta. “Threat detection means observation and setting up processes that highlight unusual activity. Why is this application being accessed at 2am and why is the access coming from a remote village?” he asks.
The region’s varying data laws, each at different standards and sophistications, pose a clear obstacle for Nearshore companies working across different Latin American markets. While the GDPR sets out instructive requirements in Europe, as does the recently-passed Chinese Data Security Law, clients will rely on TCS to meet the critical requirements for working with private digital information in each separate market of the region.
“It’s vital to manage Personal Identifiable Information (PII) across the system in its different forms. A bank working in Latin America has very different requirements to those working in Europe or the US,” said Croci.