Guatemala’s National Security Council’s Technical Secretariat, National Institute for Strategic Security Studies (INEES), and Strategic Intelligence Secretariat organized the first International Seminar on Cybersecurity in the Latin American Context.
“Cybersecurity is one of the greatest challenges that the government led by President Alejandro Giammattei has set for itself,” Colonel Francisco Girón, INEES general manager, told Diálogo on July 26. “Secure networks will allow us to transmit essential data, and to counter any cyberattack that countries of the region might face. It is essential to be able to form relationships, joint strategies, and a culture based on cybersecurity at the hemispheric level, which our countries will benefit from.”
Two hundred Guatemalan representatives, including members of the Armed Forces and private companies, as well as some 1,200 online participants from Guatemala and partner nations attended the seminar, held in the INEES auditorium, July 12-13. Nine international panelists from Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, among others, and 11 national panelists, addressed topics such as cybersecurity and cyber defense in support of intelligence and counterintelligence, the position of telecommunications in interconnected societies, cybersecurity threats in Latin America, and the security of critical infrastructure.
The Guatemalan Army’s Information and Technology Command, the entity responsible for the State’s cyber defense, also participated in the seminar by leading one of the working tables. “This command is responsible for planning, installing, and managing electronic information, telecommunications, and cyber defense systems in Guatemala,” Col. Girón said.
In August, INEES will host a training exercise in Guatemala in partnership with the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Studies. As part of the training, Perry Center instructors will provide Guatemalan armed and security forces and officials of the National Security System know-how on security issues.
“The alliance with the prestigious J. Perry Center was born out of Guatemala’s interest in developing knowledge to combat organized crime,” Col. Girón said. “We wanted to promote the Transnational Organized Crime course at INEES with the guidance of the Perry Center to develop it, thanks to whom it is already in the academic agenda.”
As of July 2022, more than 19,000 officials have been trained at INEES since its 2013 inception, including members of the Armed Forces, police, researchers, and students from different countries, among others, Col. Girón said.
In April, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro met with officials from the Organization of American States Secretariat for Multidimensional Security to follow up on cooperation and technical assistance as part of the Comprehensive Program for Strengthening Multidimensional Security in Guatemala.
At the meeting, Búcaro invited the Secretariat to visit Guatemala to continue bolstering the institutions that make up the National Security System in cybersecurity issues, including technical training for women, border security, and the control of arms and ammunition, the Guatemalan government indicated.
In 2021 alone, Guatemala’s Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT) experienced more than 8,000 cyberattacks, which affected invoicing, tax payments, and customs processes, Ronald Estrada, SAT’s IT manager told Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre.