By Beatrice E. Rangel
The United States Homeland Security Department issued a report this week in which it signals clear and present involvement of Russia in major world cyber-attacks while accusing the Eurasian power of meddling with the nuclear and electric power plants in the U.S. as well as with water distribution systems.
It further identifies Russian cooperation in cyber attacks perpetrated by North Korea against the United Kingdom's medical establishment and Russia's involvement in the attacks against the Ukrainian financial system.
The report focuses on the U.S. and thus it fails to discuss larger Russian involvement in the Americas.
This has grown over the years in a territory that is less visible but more effective when it comes to a political showdown.
We are, of course, referring to the cyber space where Russia reigns supreme. It has taken over most cyber platforms in emerging markets; it services rogue states and was involved in the creation and operation of Avalanche the cybercrime platform brought down by a multinational police task force in 2009.
In Latin America Russia's operational platform was always Cuba. But, Cuba was a costly satellite given that its regime destroyed the production system and Moscow had to feed the country.
From the cyber war perspective, Cuba was also a dumb child. Lack of access to state of the art technologies in information and communication made Cuba useless as a cyber platform. But then something happened on the way to the forum!!
Cuba got lucky when a Venezuelan President named Hugo Chavez decided to give its leaders the keys of government. And Eureka!! Russia found a platform to operate in the Americas.
A fiberoptic submarine cable was the instrument to empower Cuba with cyber faculties. A live feed came through the cable. Cuba penetrated Venezuela's identity records, financial system and property registers.
When Russia's meddling in Ukraine provoked sanctions from the West, Gazprom and Rosneft were left out in the cold away from the world financial system. But through the submarine cable a mirror financial platform was built using PDVSA as platform.
Joint ventures were created to secure the Russian companies' access to western financing. Both companies became beneficiaries of oil concessions in the heavy oil region. Both have enjoyed preferential treatment when it comes to imports of inputs and export permits.
Meanwhile Russia through Cuba has used the cyber umbilical cord to gather data on world financial systems, Latin American politics; leadership and business deals. It is now poised to intervene in at least two political races: Colombia and Mexico, which are the most significant to the project of creating nodules of crises to have currency to exchange with the US at a showdown.
This interference will be carried out through different cyber brigades from Russia.
The hawking brigade will concentrate on stealing documents from governments, political parties, and leaders of the elites.
The St. Petersburg based Internet Research Agency is the apple of discord. Its mission is to break coalitions and to sow havoc among those entities that could rival the Cuban or Russian designs through attractive and savvy social media strategies.
A third brigade penetrates information systems of power plants, water treatment, and distribution systems and air traffic controls.
And while the Russians have yet to allow the Cubans any control of these efforts, they will undoubtedly use their strategic and tactical cyber capacities to mobilize Latin countries against the United States. Something to look forward to!!!!!Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.