Mexico-US Bilateral Cybersecurity Cooperation
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Mexico-US Bilateral Cybersecurity Cooperation

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Perla Velasco By Perla Velasco | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Wed, 06/07/2023 - 10:27

The US and Mexico recognize the importance of cybersecurity as a critical aspect of their bilateral relationship and are committed to fostering the creation of an open, secure and reliable cyberspace. Under the growing threat of cyberattacks, the two countries are working together to harness the benefits of digital technologies and effectively address cyberthreats.

Through the “US-Mexico Working Group on Cyber Issues,” the two countries are engaging in their first bilateral cyber dialogue, meant to safeguard the interests of those using online services, says Mario de la Cruz Sarabia, President of Innovation and the ICT Committee, American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico.

Cybersecurity is a widely complex issue due to its transversality and multidisciplinary nature. “Technological threats are constantly evolving,” says de la Cruz. Thus, it is key to create a safe, secure and healthy digital environment. “If we do not work on building trust in the digital environment, sooner or later citizens and companies will be limited in seizing the opportunities that technology brings to consolidate our country as a digital and competitive economy.”

Protecting a country’s critical infrastructure is paramount. According to the CISO 2023 report, Latin America experiences 1,600 cyberattacks per second, resulting in damages equivalent to 1% of the GDP of certain countries in the region. Cyberattacks in the region could amount up to 6% of the region’s GDP, adds de la Cruz.

Mexico stands out as the leading country in cyberthreats in Latin America, experiencing the highest number of cyberattacks. The damages caused by these attacks in Mexico amount to up to US$8 billion. Furthermore, there is a significant talent gap in the cybersecurity field, with approximately 200,000 positions currently available and unfilled.

De la Cruz highlights the significance of cooperation and emphasizes the crucial role played by the private sector in spearheading cybersecurity efforts in the country. Given that 80% of critical infrastructure in Mexico is under private control, these entities have recognized the importance of integrating a cybersecurity strategy into their operations.

Mexico must make significant efforts to develop adequate cybersecurity policies but the country is spearheading legislative initiatives that could lead to the first cybersecurity legislation in Latin America, says de la Cruz. In this regard, as a representative of the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, de la Cruz offers recommendations to establish a comprehensive legal framework that promotes the development of a digital culture and involves all stakeholders interested in addressing these issues. A key aspect of the legislation is flexibility. “Advancing in this law will allow for a catalog of cybercrimes that must be flexible because technology evolves rapidly,” he says.

Both governments aim to promote an open, interoperable, secure and reliable internet for all their citizens, emphasizing the applicability of international law and responsible state behavior in cyberspace. They are committed to stability and accountability in cyberspace, as outlined by the UN General Assembly. 

Moreover, de la Cruz highlights the role that US-Canada-Mexico cooperation plays in facing cybersecurity challenges. “Cybersecurity is a priority for a better integration of North America. We must collaborate more; it is the responsibility of everyone to strengthen the USMCA collaboration in the fight against cyberattacks,” says de la Cruz.

To strengthen cooperation and address shared threats, the US and Mexico have outlined specific commitments. First, the countries will strengthen coordination through bilateral cooperation initiatives focused on cyber and digital economy issues. A work plan under the Bicentennial Framework and the High-Level Economic Dialogue will reflect this coordinated approach.

Through this collaboration, Mexico aims to enhance its institutional structure and strategy to fight cyberthreats and bolster its efforts in preventing and countering cybercrime. The country could build a stronger culture of cybersecurity by exchanging cyberthreat intelligence, increasing training initiatives and promoting cybersecurity awareness among federal and state agencies, the general public and the private sector. To accomplish these objectives, de la Cruz emphasized the importance of policy harmonization, stating that one of the most significant updates of the USMCA is the inclusion of a digital commerce chapter that addresses cooperation in cybersecurity to identify and mitigate cyberthreats. To achieve this goal, the first crucial step is to establish a shared taxonomy that ensures a common understanding among all parties involved. Subsequently, it is essential to develop a roadmap that actively involves the private sector and aligns national approaches within a common framework of understanding.

The bilateral cybersecurity cooperation between the US and Mexico reflects the increasing significance of cybersecurity in today’s interconnected world. By working together, these two countries aim to build a more secure and resilient region, harnessing the benefits of digital technologies while effectively addressing the challenges and threats that arise in cyberspace.

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