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URUGUAY TARGETS CYBER SECURITY

The Uruguay government is committed to achieving a secure digital environment.

Uruguay is one of the most developed countries in Latin America in terms of e-commerce, e-government initiatives and overall per capita internet penetration. The ICT sector is an important part of Uruguay’s economy. Inter-American Development Bank noted “cyberspace protection efforts have not kept pace with digitization, thus leaving Uruguay’s cyberspace vulnerable to attack.”

According to the United Nation’s ‘e-Government Readiness Survey 2018’, Uruguay is one of the most developed countries in Latin America in terms of e-commerce, e-government initiatives and overall per capita internet penetration.  The government of Uruguay is committed to digitizing all government services by 2020 through its “Digital Government Plan 2020”, which includes single-sign-on mechanisms, digital signatures, filling out forms and requesting appointments.  In the Western Hemisphere, Uruguay only trails the United States and Canada in the E-Government Development Index. 

The ICT sector is an important part of Uruguay’s economy with software exports representing 12% of the country’s $3.5 billion in annual exports.  Of these software exports, two-thirds are sold to the United States.  Additionally, Uruguay’s computer programmers are very sophisticated with many companies using Uruguayan computer professionals to support regional operations.  Uruguay is also part of the “One Laptop Per Chile Program”, called Plan Ceibal, where all public-school children receive a laptop to augment their classroom experience and improve distance learning.

Despite the high level of information technology sophistication, the Inter-American Development Bank noted “cyberspace protection efforts have not kept pace with digitization, thus leaving Uruguay’s cyberspace vulnerable to attack.”.  

In the Inter-American Development Bank’s report called ‘Strengthening Cybersecurity in Uruguay’ noted: Uruguay has carried out numerous initiatives to protect its cyberspace, staking its position as one of the most advanced countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of cybersecurity. Yet, as noted in the 2016 Cybersecurity Report, significant weaknesses remain. AGESIC launched the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT.uy) in 2008 and the Government Security Operation Center (GSOC) in 2017. The technical capacity and technological equipment of CERT.uy have not kept pace with the demands of a rapidly changing digital world, nor does the GSOC have all the resources it needs to fulfill its purpose. The government, though, is committed to achieving a secure digital environment, as reflected in “Uruguay Digital Agenda.”

The IDB further states that main challenges as the lack of operational capacity to monitor, detect, and respond to incidents, and the lack of trained cybersecurity professionals.  For these reasons, the IDB approved a $10 million loan that will support the strengthening of Uruguay’s capacity to protect its digital space by improving its systems to prevent, detect and respond to cyber-attacks.  One consultant noted that Uruguay needs at least 600 more cybersecurity professionals to meet the current demand. 

Multiple opportunities exist in Uruguay for cyber security companies to provide training and software.  Contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Uruguay for more information. office.montevideo@trade.gov 

02/26/2020