First Ibero-American Conference about Cybersecurity: Experts Highlight the Challenges of the New Normal and Its Social Impact

The Ibero-American Conference “Cybersecurity, Key Element for Social and Financial Inclusion” was hosted by VU™ and introduced the vision of experts from Microsoft, BID Lab, Telefónica and Falabella.   

Experts in innovation and new technologies analyzed the current cybersecurity landscape, during and post-pandemic, and highlighted the challenges towards the so-called new normal, during the Ibero-American Conference “Cybersecurity, Key Element for Social and Financial Inclusion”, hosted by VU™, company focused on fraud prevention and identity protection, present in 25 countries.

The conference, which was transmitted simultaneously on the United States, Latin America and Spain and which was attended by 600 people, included presentations from representatives of BID Lab, Microsoft, Telefónica and Falabella.

On the event’s opening, Sebastian Stranieri, Founder & CEO of VU™, expressed his optimist vision regarding the accelerated digitalization and connectivity processes that took place in the last few months, even though he also addressed the upcoming challenges, particularly those related to the digital identity and cyber-attack prevention, included on the 2020 report “Cybersecurity on Digital Environments. What’s Coming In the New Normal”.

“The future we talked so much about arrived from one day to another”, he affirmed. “This period tested the business’ resilience. I wonder how many had ever calculated the value of an inoperative day at their companies. Now, that is an indicator every executive should consider when establishing a cybersecurity strategy along specialists”, he noted. He added cyberattacks and threats increased by 80 percent in these last few months.  

In this context, Stranieri anticipated this year VU™ assumed a commitment of investing almost $30 million in the upcoming 24 months. One of the main points, he said, will be training and generation of job posts in cybersecurity through the push, alongside other partners, of VU™ University. “The deficit of job posts is of 1 million, and VU wants to become the biggest cybersecurity certificates’ generator in the world”, he emphasized.   

For Stranieri, the purpose driving the changes must always be to simplify the user’s lives. He mentioned, as an example, the case of the Social Insurance Institution of Bolivia, where VU and Microsoft provided the digital identity service that allowed thousands of citizens to receive financial support due to the impact of the pandemic.  

“In the future, the difference will be set by those who can team up with technology reducing the risk for citizens. In order to achieve this, it’s paramount to evolve the digital identity system to allow each person to operate without remembering complex phrases or resort to external systems, as well as protecting the users’ access points to the company’s resources. A clear example of good results is RENAPER in Argentina, with the Digital Identification System, which has direct impact upon 9 million users”, he said. 

VU™, a company with more than a decade of experience developing cybersecurity solutions, with the objective of improving the life of citizens around the world, combines high-end technology with biometrics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to simplify the access to digital tools and enable procedures easily, quickly, remotely and securely. In these years, the company expanded its operations to 25 countries, providing services to more than a hundred banks, financial entities and governmental agencies, among others. 

The role of digital innovation and cybersecurity within social inclusion was the main topic addressed by Irene Arias Hofman, CEO of IDB Lab, the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which supports experimental projects and entrepreneurships with a massive scale impact on populations in vulnerable situations. This year, the IDB Lab announced a partnership with VU™ that will allow the company to extend its social impact from 35 million users to more than 400 million people in the next 3 years. VU is the first technology-based company in the region in which IDB Lab invests directly. Working together will allow the company to take its mission to new territories and expand its cybersecurity training program.

Arias Hofman explained that the investment is a response to the new needs and the growing demand for innovation that the organization sees in health, education and financial services, and highlighted the role of cybersecurity "to have a more inclusive and resilient region.” 

“We are seeing new needs and demands. Currently, only five countries have a cybersecurity framework and now they have all realized that digital connectivity is not optional--but a basic service,” she said. In this respect, she spoke of the opportunities that open up. As an example, she referred to a start-up that made an alliance with the government of Ecuador to use geolocation to manage the pandemic.   

On his part, Diego Bekerman, Microsoft General Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighted the value of partnerships between the public and private sectors to generate lasting social impacts.

“One of the lessons provided by the current context is the urgent need to address issues related to the securitization of data to reduce vulnerabilities; organizations make decisions today to protect their assets and interactions,” he said. 

“The threats are real; therefore, it is important to raise the capacity of detection, prevention and response organizations at different levels to offer secure solutions. The priority objective must be to protect citizens,” he assured. At this point, Bekerman referred to alliances with public and private banks in Argentina to improve survival demonstration systems during the pandemic.   

For his part, Francisco Oteiza Lacalle, Global PM in Identity at ElevenPaths, Telefónica's cybersecurity services company, emphasized the challenges of achieving efficient identity and access management in the business world.

“Generally, companies go out looking for technology. But the first step is that they understand their needs, their requirements based on the responses they have to give to customers and users. And then yes, see what specific technology meets those needs,” he advised.  

The conference concluded with a conversation between Stranieri and Leonardo Di Nucci, CIO of Falabella Financiero, who highlighted decisions that were positive in his company, present in several countries, and highlighted the rapid changes that are taking place in the region regarding regulations.

“We unify the validation model in all countries, with minimal adaptations and we simplify it. For example, to transfer money, you only need two vectors, when other banks ask for three keys, or if you download another application to prove your identity,” he said. 

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