HomeNewsBriefMexico Cyber Criminals 'Kidnapping' Business Computer Systems
BRIEF

Mexico Cyber Criminals 'Kidnapping' Business Computer Systems

CYBERCRIME / 10 APR 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Hackers in Mexico have found a profitable illicit enterprise in extorting businesses by hijacking computer systems, another dimension in the country's large and growing cyber crime industry.

Speaking at a security conference in Mexico City, the head of Mexico's Scientific Police Division, Ciro Humberto Ortiz Estrada, described how hackers remotely "kidnap" the computer systems and databases of businesses, reported La Jornada.

The criminals then demand payment -- usually between $2,000 and $3,000 -- for the user to regain access to the system. The individual or company is normally forced to pay by electronic transfer into national or foreign bank accounts.

Small and medium sized businesses are the most vulnerable to these attacks, as they often do not have the sophisticated protection systems of larger companies, according to Ortiz.

Ortiz warned cyber crime in Mexico was growing rapidly: while criminals made an estimated $2 billion from cyber crime in 2012, this increased to $3 billion in 2013, he said. Over the course of 2013, Mexico's Federal Police registered 23,543 cyber crime cases.

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico's high internet connectivity and abundance of criminal groups have made it a growing hub for cyber crime -- which more commonly takes the form of hacking, scams, fraud and theft.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Cyber Crime

Reports of cyber extortion in Mexico are not new, with a 2011 McAfee survey of electricity infrastructure executives revealing that up to 80 percent of Mexican participants had been subject to cyber extortion.

However, the extortion reported by McAfee was principally based on threatening to bring down networks with distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS). The strategy of holding systems for ransom described by Ortiz suggests the crime is evolving.

Elsewhere in the region, less sophisticated forms of extortion that make use of the internet are also taking hold. In Colombia, for example, extortionists track down personal data online and use it to blackmail victims.

Mexico is now taking steps to address the problem of cyber crime. In 2012, the country created the National Cyber Incident Response Center (CERT-MX), and according to Ortiz, the federal government is currently evaluating a legal reform that will establish penalties for specific cyber crimes. However, as illustrated by the latest reported extortion techniques, the challenge is not limited to establishing new judicial and institutional mechanisms for tackling cyber crime, but also involves keeping up with a rapidly evolving criminal sector.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA / 6 NOV 2012

Nearly 90 percent of methamphetamine laboratories discovered in Mexico in the past decade have been located in…

BRAZIL / 31 DEC 2015

Welcome to InSight Crime's Game Changers 2015, where we highlight the year's most important trends in organized crime in Latin…

EL COSS / 27 SEP 2017

A former leader of the Gulf Cartel has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in the United States, a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…