Microsoft is opening a cyber security center in Mexico City in order to better combat an estimated $4 billion industry, a decision that points to growing concern about this type of crime in the country.
Microsoft issued a press release on February 24 announcing the opening of the new center and outlining its projected role in advancing cyber security in the region.
"By opening this center, we are bringing Microsoft's offer of security increasingly closer to customers in order to be a strategic part of their transformation, and together we will create a country and a region that are more prosperous and productive, and above all, that are safer," said Jorge Silva, general manager of Microsoft Mexico.
According to Microsoft's estimates, Mexico loses up to $4 billion dollars annually to cyber criminal activity. Mexico's Technical Secretary on the National Security Council, Tomás Zerón de Lucio, recently said that Mexico is the second-hardest hit country in Latin America by cyber crime, after Brazil, and ranks in the top 10 worldwide.
While the Microsoft facility is designed to serve the region in general, a special deal was signed between the Mexican Federal Police and Microsoft's team designed to both boost IT security and assist in investigations regarding internet crimes.
InSight Crime Analysis
After opening a cyber crime center in Colombia in 2013 (Silva was the head of Microsoft Colombia at the time), it appears that Microsoft is shifting its attention to Mexico. This provides a larger market for the company's security products while also presenting it with a greater range of threats to address. Latin America's largest and most complex criminal groups are based in Mexico, and as these groups adapt and cyber crime becomes a more important weapon, Mexico and Microsoft may increasingly find themselves on the front lines of cyber crime prevention in the region.
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Indeed, organized crime is already making inroads into this burgeoning criminal industry. A cyber security specialist told local media in December that cyber theft is carried out by "very well structured groups, with experts for every stage of the process: infiltration, capture, commercialization."
Meanwhile, Mexican officials have struggled to make the necessary changes to confront and counteract cyber crime. Mexico has gained a reputation as a relatively safe operating zone for cyber criminals engaging in personal information theft. Critics say that criminals operate with impunity and that the authorities lack the tools and legislation to prosecute cases of cyber crime.