The Brazilian government and its biggest oil company, Petrobras, would be under spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Documents released by the whistleblower Edward Snowden to The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald show that the NSA is conducting intelligence-gathering operations that go beyond its core mission of national security. Brazil appeared in several files showing that the US agency intercepted Brazilian communications and spied on the president Dilma Rousseff and her aides. Petrobras is among several targets for the agency’s Blackpearl program, which extricates data from private networks.
Petrobras is the largest company in Brazil and one of the 30 biggest businesses in the world. Majority owned by the state, it is a major source of revenue for the government and is developing the biggest oil discoveries of this century, which are in a pre-salt region deep under the Atlantic.
In a top secret presentation, titled “Private networks are important”, slides prepared by the Britain’s GCHQ shows as targets Petrobras along with the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, an organisation better known as SWIFT that oversees international bank transfers thought to be secure transactions, the French foreign ministry and Google. There is several other targets on the list, which may have links to terrorist organisations and other operations that potentially threaten the US. One slide, headed “Results – what do we find?”, notes that private network traffic is collected from energy companies, financial organisations and airlines, as well as foreign governments. This records show how two programs that monitor private networks work: “Flying Pig” and “Hush Puppy”.
In the overview of another surveillance operation called Blarney, one slide provides a list of requirements that includes “economic” information as well as military, diplomatic, political and counter proliferation and counter terrorism data. The presentation also explains how the NSA intercepts the information. According to the document, spying is done through a computer network attack known as “man in the middle”. In this case, the data are shifted to the centre of the NSA and then arrives to the recipient without anyone knowing. One of the records disclosed by Snowden and released on one of the country’s most influential TV transmission named “Fantástico”, from Rede Globo, says that the name of the Latin America’s key target program is “Silverzephyr”. The program metadata records the total information thattravels over the network, and the content of recorded voice and fax.