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Five highlights from the Canada-Brazil spying revelations

A man uses his cellphone in downtown Toronto, September 3, 2013. Brazilian television says Canadian intelligence operators have been able to target mobile devices in a broader attempt to gather information on the country’s ministry of mines and energy.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Canada's signals-intelligence agency has been spying on Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry, according to documents the former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden leaked to Brazil's Globo television network.

Globo obtained a copy of a slide presentation made by someone at the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). The document was shown at a June 2012 gathering of members of the "Five Eyes," the signals-intelligence alliance of Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Here are some highlights that can be gleaned from the slides:

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1. Using a program called Olympia, CSEC took aim at Brazil's Ministry of Mines and Energy, describing it as a "new target to develop" despite "limited access/target knowledge."

2. One of the slides shows that CSEC focused on ministry portable devices and was able to identify their carriers (such as Brasil Telecom S.A. or Global Village Telecom), the kind of hardware being used (for example a Nokia 3120 or an Android-based Motorola MRUQ7) and metadata about where calls were placed, in countries such as Peru, Venezuela, Poland, Singapore, Great Britain.

Another slide in the presentation explains how analysts cross-referenced a handset's SIM card with the network telephone number assigned to it and the handset's unique number (IMEI).

3. CSEC's metadata collection included calls made from the Mines and Energy Ministry to the Brazilian embassy in Peru and the head office of OLADE, the Latin American Energy Organization, in Quito, Ecuador.

One slide showed how the Canadians connected an IP address assigned to the ministry to e-mail communications with Canada, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Jordan and South Africa.

4. Another phone monitored by CSEC belonged to Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto, a career diplomat who was ambassador to Canada from 2008 to 2011, and is now Brazil's Under Secretary for Middle East and Africa.

5. CSEC's next step was going to be the collection of e-mails and co-operation with hacking specialists working for a secret unit of the U.S. National Security Agency.

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"I have identified MX [e-mail] servers which have been targeted to passive collection by the Intel analysts," says a slide titled "Moving Forward."

The slide mentions TAO (Tailored Access Operations), an NSA unit that specializes in installing spyware and tracking devices and has been reported to have played a role in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

"I am working with TAO to further examine the possibility for a Man on the Side operation," the CSEC slide says, alluding to a form of online eavesdropping.

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