In 2019, federal, municipal, and state agencies all over Brazil recorded 23,717 notifications and 12,365 incidents in their networks and systems.
The threats included website invasion, fraud, and interference in network and system availability. The Brazilian Government Response Team for Computer Security Incidents, a governmental organization tasked to gather, analyze, and respond to notifications and activities related to computer security breaches, collected the data.
Faced with these numbers, military and civilian organizations seek to promote solutions to counter cyberattacks. The Ministry of Defense organizes yearly Cyber Guardian exercises. The objective of the 2020 event, scheduled for June 30-July 2, is to increase cyberspace protection in infrastructures of different sectors, including energy, finance, transportation, and nuclear.
The Brazilian initiative aligns with international concerns such as those of the United Nations (U.N.). For instance, the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Centre organizes an event that seeks to enhance countries’ capabilities to prevent cyberattacks from terrorist groups.
What would happen if hackers infiltrated the control system of a power plant boiler and interfered with the temperature to cause an explosion? The question inspired a Brazilian team whose cybersecurity project was selected by the U.N. to be presented at the 2019 Cybersecurity Challenge: Countering Digital Terrorism, in Vienna, Austria.
“Strategic structures such as a nuclear power plants are very focused on physical space security, but there is room for improvement in digital security solutions,” said Tássya Macedo Queiroz, a chemical engineer and member of the team of four Brazilians who participated in the U.N. challenge.
Countering cyberattacks against critical infrastructures is one of the four main areas of the U.N. event. The organization seeks to incentivize the creation of solutions to counter the online promotion of terrorist content, online terrorist communications, and digital terrorist funding. People who submit proposals to the Cybersecurity Challenge must be between 18 and 38 years old, as proposals must promote youth engagement. According to the U.N., terrorist use of new technologies is more focused on younger individuals than any other demographic group.
The idea that the Brazilians presented in Vienna consisted of a program to train and update members of nuclear research centers on cybersecurity. “Our goal is to bring awareness about its relevance, showing, for instance, how to react to a system invasion, who to report it to, how to protect the digital structures, etc.,” said Queiroz.
Carlos Marcos Torres, another member of the Brazilian team, said that the group returned from Austria determined to propose the U.N. approved program to institutions of the Angra I and Angra II nuclear plant complex, in Rio de Janeiro, which produce about 3 percent of the energy that the country consumes.