The Caribbean region is preparing for an upsurge in cybersecurity expansion as Internet safety concerns in Latin America push regional leaders toward urgent reviews of online business and government operations.
The growth in the sector is a two-way traffic and a timely boon to global cybersecurity companies disappointed by slow upturn in Europe, analysts said. Recent cutbacks in U.S. defense expenditure and an increasing reluctance of U.S. corporations to allocate more funds to cybersecurity have driven many Internet businesses to look for greener pastures.
U.S. cybersecurity manufacturers, up against competition from East Asia, are increasingly keen to develop export markets in areas where local competition is small and local demands for wide-ranging technology transfers are less stringent.
In Latin America, Brazil has taken the lead in trying to extract exacting technology transfer deals and hasn't hesitated to turn away foreign firms that demur when asked to share technologies as part of deals.
In the Caribbean, where cybersecurity markets are only beginning to open up, both businesses and governments are keen to build capacity on the best possible financial terms instead of insisting on sharing of technologies as their first preference.
U.S. firm Niksun Inc., a world leader in real-time and forensics-based cybersecurity and network monitoring solutions, announced it has entered the Caribbean and Latin America to develop new business.
The company, which has headquarters in Princeton, N.J., hosted a customer and partner event in Puerto Rico last month.
Niksun supplies the U.S. and other government agencies and large enterprises with products and services to monitor the performance of networks and fight cyberattacks.
Caribbean security authorities issued repeated warnings over the spillover effect of organized crime and narcotics rings hounded out of Colombia and Mexico in recent crackdowns in the two countries.
Caribbean governments are finding they are less equipped than Latin American countries in fighting sophisticated criminal organizations using airplanes, submersibles and disaffected militant groups to trade in narcotics, weapons and, in some cases, aspiring migrants.
Niksun says it now has a presence in the Caribbean and Central America, Mexico and Brazil and plans to open other sales offices in the region. Several other cybersecurity companies have indicated they want to explore business opportunities in the area.
The company is touting its security and performance management solutions dealing with capture, detection, analytics data and proactive prevention of cybercrime.
U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the U.S. Cyber Command, stated at an American Enterprise Institute seminar in July the number of cyberattacks against U.S. infrastructure from 2009-11 grew 17-fold.
In 2011, the number of cyberattacks increased 44 percent and malware increased by 60 percent, he said, citing research data.
"As Caribbean and Latin American economies grow, the prospect of financial gain from cyberattacks is drawing organized gangs into the region," The Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica warned.
"The issue is not being taken more seriously as the region's relatively fragile infrastructure makes whole economies particularly vulnerable," said David Jessop, managing director of the Caribbean Council, a U.K. organization that advises British territories and Caribbean countries in the region.
Jessop said in an article for The Gleaner Web site, "For the most part, governments and security agencies in the region seem not have considered in any depth this vulnerability and its implications or developed detailed planning to respond to any serious attack."
The Caribbean is one of the world's fastest growing regions for Internet usage. Internet World Stats said about 28.7 percent of the Caribbean population of 41.4 million uses the Internet.