Show Me the Money

DDoS attacks target Latin American financials.

The Americas in dark blue on light blue background

Latin America (LATAM) has one of the world’s strongest markets for growth in the banking sector, with about 70 percent of the LATAM population still unbanked or underbanked. Several shifts are taking place—increased mobile device ownership, improvements in internet connectivity, and favorable new governmental banking policies, to name a few—resulting in stronger investment by financial technology (FinTech) companies in the region.

FinTechs in Brazil drew more than 95 million monthly users in 2021 alone, far outpacing the growth of traditional banks in the region. Companies that provide digital banking alternatives grew 33 percent last year, driven in large part by demand for financial services that aren’t met by traditional banks, as well as favorable regulatory changes that provide enhanced transparency and security for users and the companies that provide such services.

Unfortunately, the growth of digital banking in LATAM hasn’t gone unnoticed by cyber attackers, as discussed in the latest DDoS Threat Intelligence Report. During the first half of 2022, the region, made up of more than 45 countries, experienced a 63 percent increase in attacks against the banking sector. Moreover, attacks against credit card issuers grew from none to more than 350 in just 18 months.

Wireless Telecom Carriers Also Under Attack

But banking wasn’t the only vertical that showed increased attacks. Mobile phone subscribers in LATAM grew by more than 6 percent in 2021. That growth is expected to continue increasing in this region for some time as more people take advantage of 5G networks and use mobile devices as hotspots in areas where internet connectivity continues to lag. The growth in mobile subscribers resulted in an interesting shift in attacks against the telecommunications vertical in LATAM in the first half of 2022.

Traditionally, wired telecommunication carriers in LATAM have been the primary focus of cybercriminals in this vertical. However, growth in mobile users has led attackers to focus more of their efforts on wireless telecom carriers. The result is that attacks against the wireless vertical almost surpassed the number of attacks against wired carriers for the first time. As 5G networks continue to proliferate, we may see that shift become more pronounced.

Direct-Path Attacks Increase

Meanwhile, bad actors that targeted LATAM also made some interesting shifts in strategy for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Whereas cybercriminals in this region traditionally have preferred volumetric attacks, the first half of the year saw more direct-path, botnet-based TCP attacks.

Be sure to read about all the DDoS attack trends for Latin America—including the ways in which sociopolitical events are impacting attack strategies—in the 1H 2022 DDoS Threat Intelligence Report.