On average half of Mexico’s digital media has suffered computer attacks, ranging from hacking and stealing information from email accounts and social networks, to denial of service (DDoS) attacks and defamation or discredit campaigns through digital media. The findings are contained in the Punto de Inflexión study. Impact, Threats and Sustainability, carried out by SembraMedia in collaboration with Omidyar Network.
For the teacher in journalism and co-founder of SembraMedia, Mijal Iastrebner, this degree of vulnerability of digital native media in Mexico is due to the fact that the level of institutional and physical insecurity against journalism in general is replicated in the digital field.
Mexico, however is not the country with the most cyber attacks among the nations included in the study. In Colombia 80% of the digital native media has suffered some kind of cybernetic violation. The other two countries included in the research, Argentina and Brazil, suffered a relatively lower number of cyberattacks with only 24% and 32% of this type of media reported having suffered an attack, respectively.
This radical difference in the matter of cyber attacks between Mexico and Colombia, on the one hand, and Argentina and Brazil, on the other, is explained by the most frequent types of attack in each country, according to SembraMeida. In Argentina and Brazil, the media suffer a greater number of fiscal attacks; the authorities take advantage of their regulatory power so that the media is not able to develop any type of commercial activity. At the other extreme, in Mexico and Colombia, physical and institutional violence is much more widespread, which is reflected in the digital environment.
Mexico is a special case for many reasons. In principle, although there was a higher incidence of cyberattacks among Colombia’s digital native media, it is also true that the country’s self-censorship index was lower than that of Mexico, there was a greater number of complaints from any type of attack. While 32% of Mexican digital native media reported having exercised self-censorship due to a threat, the figure in the Colombian media is 24% and in Brazil and Argentina it is reduced to 12% and 16%, respectively.
Again, the difference is notorious and according to Mijal Iastrebner, it is largely due to the audiences of each country. In Argentina, the agrarian conflict of 2008 strongly polarized and dispersed the audiences, which distanced themselves from traditional media and began to consume more and more the contents of alternative media. Something similar happened in Brazil with the corruption scandals of the last five years.