Latin America Battles Human Rights Online

Following centuries of struggle, Latin American countries succeeded in gaining independence in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. Notwithstanding, it is a well-known fact that today there is no equal financial distribution between the different classes in Latin American society.

In an attempt to overcome these significant class differences and protect the lower classes in Latin American countries, many human rights groups were created. However, this post refers to very different groups that are fighting for their rights in a more modern way – from behind a computer screen.

Most of these groups have a very similar agenda and they know that the best way to succeed lies in garnering the assistance of hacktivists from all over the continent and even further afield.

Via the computer, they are calling out to the people to protest against government laws and restrictions. Take, for example, the case of #4octrodealadictadurawhere Anonymous exposes police brutality and violence against unarmed protesters.

Violent Clashes
Police arrests protestors
Protestors document the violence
Protestors document the violence

Their main activity is hacking and defacing important websites. Sometimes they even leak information from databases. Their targets are mostly webpages affiliated with the government, politicians and candidates, and large enterprises such as railroad companies, newspapers and local authorities.

Almost all of the groups identify with Anonymous. One of the more prominent of these groups is Anonymous Peru, which claims to be striving for a country with no corruption, and calls to protect the human and civil rights of the citizens of Peru. The group created #OpIndependenciaPeru  and claims to have attacked government websites on Peruvian Independence day on July 28, 2014. During this operation, they alleged that they leaked candidate information, defaced ISP in Argentina and hacked a Peruvian government website.

Anonymous Peru Twitter

Another notable group is MexicanH Team from Mexico. The group identifies with Anonymous Mexico and is very popular (with over 21,000 followers on Twitter). The group launched #OpTequilatargeting Mexico’s Independence Day on September 15, 2014. During the campaign, the group hacked the website of the presidency (using an XSS vulnerability). They also leaked government email addresses, usernames and passwords.

XSS vulnerability in the president website
Database leakage

The latest hacktivist group to capture attention is TeamHackArgentino. The goals of this group are to show that the government’s politics are as bad as the security of their websites, and to demonstrate the fact that they posted an archive of their attacks on two different websites.

TeamHackArgentino Twitter
TeamHackArgentino Twitter

In conclusion, all of these groups help each other to fight against their governments, in an effort to rouse them and make them aware of the unjust acts being perpetrated against the people of Latin America, especially the poor.

Don’t Forget What the Real Menace Is…

Written by Daniel Geifman

Previous posts on this blog have discussed several cases and scenarios of cyber-attacks perpetrated by hactivists with the potential to become terrorists, Anonymous affiliates, LulzSec or other individuals taking advantage of the lack of preparedness (or understanding) of state ministries, banks and industries personnel. This post will discuss the cyber-crime arena and more specifically, the threat of the web in drug trafficking and human trafficking. There is no doubt that these attacks represent a genuine menace – according to a recent report issued by Symantec, an estimated $113 billion is stolen from costumers around the world annually.

But let’s not forget that cyber-crimes can be divided into several different areas, from phishing or DDoS to more serious activities such as identity, debit and credit card number theft. In my point of view, this is not a strategic issue. These attacks, although important, have no point of comparison and social consequences compared with the use of the web for drug-and people-trafficking, as well as other painful issues, such as pedophilia. In my opinion, these are more relevant and strategic issues, which can bring any country and society to her knees.

In recent years, we have noted a tendency to place the cyber-crime topic in the spotlight, owing to mass media coverage or simply because is a new, sexy and not-very-well comprehended topic. But ordinary civilians are not the only ones to see the potential and the advantages of using the web to make their lives easier. Drug cartels in Latin America have also recognized the advantages of social networks and deep web, to save precious logistic time avoiding dangerous meetings with other dealers, sending messages and mostly, recruiting new members and attracting victims to their nets. These cartels have evolved into more than just drug producers and traffickers – they have become mafias, controlling not only the drug trafficking from Afghanistan, Colombia and Mexico to the United States and Europe, but they have also created a corruption, prostitution, kidnapping and gambling net, estimated to produce $320 billion in revenues every year, from drug trafficking alone.

Defining Priorities

Crimes ranging from phishing attacks through drug trafficking must all be fought; there is no doubt about that. But first we should define as a society what we expect in the future. At the end of the day, web or deep web is the same thing, just another communication device, not the problem itself. By fighting defacements with better anti-virus software or technicians we are not fighting a strategic battle, we are just patching up the real menace that lurks beneath.