Anatel investigates whether operators knew about spy software attacks

Anatel investigates whether operators knew about spy software attacks
Anatel investigates whether operators knew about spy software attacks
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Photo: Reproduction/Abin

Abin

The National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) initiated three administrative proceedings to find out whether the telephone operators Tim, Vivo and Claro were aware of the attacks by FirstMile spy software, used in the alleged scheme of illegal spying on authorities through the Brazilian Intelligence Agency ( Abin) during the government of Jair Bolsonaro.

In a note sent to iG Portal
the agency reported that the investigations prioritized, at the beginning, “clarifying whether there was knowledge and collaboration of the providers with the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), and investigating any failures that could allow such undue access.”

The Agency also reported that it had identified, on the part of the operators, the implementation of blocking solutions for this type of activity, but is investigating “whether the providers noticed any attempts to improperly access information at the time they occurred, and whether they should have notified the Agency, or if they only became aware of it later, through press reports.”

The Agency did not confirm, however, whether the companies in fact did not communicate about the attacks – a stance that would earn them administrative punishment, but reported having requested information from the Federal Police that could contribute to the continuity of the investigations.

Check out the two notes sent to iG by Anatel in full:

“Anatel initiated Administrative Proceedings to investigate the facts narrated in news from the country’s main newspapers about the monitoring of Brazilian citizens carried out by Abin, using spy software on the networks of Brazilian mobile phone providers.

The spy software exploited the historical characteristic of a standardized protocol for international interconnection between providers of telecommunications services.

The investigations showed:

1) That Abin did not make contacts or agreements with the providers for such a campaign;
2) That the providers have implemented solutions in the networks with the function of blocking possible exploitations of this protocol. This implementation of the blocking solution was a result of the cybersecurity risk management process, and not in response to the specific case that was previously unknown.

The practical action was carried out by the company hired by Abin, via spy software. The investigation revealed no contact or contract between the providers and the company Cognyte.

Based on the information already collected, it is not yet possible to say about the data explored.

The providers report having adopted solutions to block this type of unauthorized access, as well as carrying out successful tests.

The Agency determined that new tests be carried out by a specialized and independent company.

Finally, we inform you that the Agency’s investigation is still ongoing.”

“The National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) informs that it has initiated three administrative proceedings based on the facts reported by the press on March 14, 2023, regarding the possible monitoring of citizens through spy software, on the networks of mobile phone companies. Such procedures prioritized, at the beginning, clarifying whether there was knowledge and collaboration of the providers with the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), and investigating any failures that could allow such undue access.

The providers reported having no prior knowledge or communication with Abin regarding the reported facts. They also reported having implemented blocking solutions regarding possible improper access through international interconnection protocols. Furthermore, they reported having carried out tests to confirm the sufficiency of the solution.

Anatel investigates whether the providers noticed any attempts to improperly access information at the time they occurred, and whether they should have notified the Agency, or whether they only became aware of them later, through press reports.

The adoption of security solutions does not necessarily occur as a reaction to incidents that have occurred, but can also result from preventive measures and risk management, which is an obligation arising from sectoral regulations.

The providers have provided information to the Agency on the topic and a new round of tests was agreed on the sufficiency of the implemented blocking solutions.

Any finding of evidence of non-compliance with obligations leads to the opening of sanctioning proceedings, which respect due legal defense and contradictory process.

The Agency informs that it has requested information from the Federal Police that could contribute to the continuity of the investigations.”

O iG Portal contacted the operators, but has not yet received a response.

*Report being updated.

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Anatel investigates operators knew spy software attacks

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