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Cybercrime Attacks Climb Despite Laws Targeting Online Crime

Cybercrime Attacks Climb Despite Laws Targeting Online Crime

Brazil is on the rise in a critical world measure, but it is an unenviable ranking. The country is now among the top sources of cybercrime, according to new research into online criminal activity. Law enforcement is aware of the problem, but despite laws that specifically address cybercrime, online criminal activity continues to grow.

Brazil ranks second in the world in terms of online banking fraud and financial malware, behind only the Russian Federation, according to a report from the Kaspersky Lab. Yet in terms of the numbers of citizens impacted by online attacks, Brazil stands at the top. The Kaspersky report says one in five computer users in Brazil encountered financial malware in 2014. In second-place Turkey, 14.9 percent of users encountered financial malware. Though Russia has the highest total number of attacks, attacks there exposed just 3.6 percent of the country’s users.

Brazil does have laws addressing online criminal activity. In 2013, lawmakers approved a law in response to the theft of nude pictures from the computer of Brazilian actress Carolina Dieckmann. The law established certain online activities, such as hacking, counterfeiting of debit or credit cards, and circumventing security, as cybercrimes. But some say the law does not go far enough and is not a deterrent to criminals. The Kaspersky report says that the law’s penalties are too lenient and the justice system is too slow to respond. “It is very common for attackers to be arrested three or four times only to be released again without charge,” the report says.

A convergence of factors contributes to the proliferation of cybercrime in Brazil. Among them are the possibility of generating quick returns and lax law enforcement, according to research from Trend Micro. In fact, because law enforcement is lax, many Brazilian cybercriminals operate relatively openly, using public forums and apps.

When Brazilian cybercriminals search for targets, they most often look to financial institutions. While Russia’s cybercriminals have the most sophisticated attacks on banks, Brazil’s cybercriminals have stepped up their game. Besides conducting illicit activities in Brazil, law enforcement says that developers in Brazil support criminal efforts in other Latin American countries as well.

Cyberattacks are expensive for Brazilian consumers and businesses. Foreign Affairs cites research that suggests that data theft accounted for as much as $4.7 billion in financial losses in 2013. The proliferation of online criminal activity in Brazil suggests that either the cybercrime laws the country has in place are not adequate or the laws are not adequately enforced. Given the continued growth of online criminal activity, Brazil’s lawmakers may need to revisit the matter to determine how to reverse the country’s cybercrime trends.

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