Brazil Revamps Data Security Ahead of 2014 World Cup

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 10.05.21 AMWhen the United States qualified for the 2014 World Cup on September 10th, the eyes of eager American soccer fans immediately turned to Brazil. Infrastructure issues and worries that stadiums and transport links will not be safe or ready by next summer have plagued the country’s preparations. With an estimated 3 million foreign tourists preparing to descend on Brazil (including upwards of 150,000 Americans, if South Africa 2010 numbers are replicated), the country faces an uphill battle to be fully ready.

Brazil is already taking steps forward, however, with regard to data security. Following the revelation of the NSA’s foreign surveillance programs, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is championing legislation that would force foreign Internet companies that do business in Brazil to maintain data centers inside the country. These data centers would then, under the proposed legislation, be subject to Brazil’s privacy laws. Those privacy laws are set to be strengthened in the coming weeks, with a vote on an “Internet Constitution” upcoming in the Brazilian Congress.

The formally-named Marco Civil da Internet (English version) is meant to establish the rights and responsibilities of Brazilian individuals and businesses that use the Internet. The goal of the bill is to establish freedom of online expression, personal data protection, and network neutrality. The legislation could, if enacted and interpreted broadly, even prevent service providers from tracking browsing habits to sell information to advertisers, which would be a huge victory for Internet privacy advocates.

In addition to legislation, Brazil is seeking to remove itself even further from the digital cloud and thus, American surveillance, by establishing direct fiber optic links with neighboring countries. It has already completed these links with Uruguay, and will soon do so with Argentina, allowing government communications between the nations to remain secure. Brazil also hopes to launch its own communications satellite by 2016, allowing sensitive domestic communications to remain in Brazilian control at all times.

While the steps Brazil is taking to ensure Internet data and communications security are encouraging, the country’s infrastructure in other areas falls well short. The U.S. State Department has a note on its website, warning visitors to Brazil to be cautious around banks and ATMs that accept American debit and credit cards, because some visitors have “[received] billing statements with unauthorized charges after returning from a visit to Brazil, or [have discovered] that their cards were cloned or duplicated without their knowledge.”

Brazil also has an unseemly reputation for being one of the world’s largest producers of spam, Trojan viruses, and phishing programs. The government has taken steps to combat this issue by passing legislation that would make digital fraud a criminal offense punishable by prison time. It is unknown whether this legislation will have a significant impact ahead of the World Cup. Foreign tourists who are not fluent in Portuguese could find themselves accidentally stumbling onto illegitimate websites and could put themselves and their digital identity at significant risk.

For those planning on going to Brazil for the World Cup, the advice to protect oneself remains the same as it does when traveling to any foreign country. Remain vigilant, use ATMs only in secure locations with no one loitering nearby, and as always, keep passwords and PINs private and secure.

If you believe that you are a victim of financial fraud, Forensicon can help. We have the experience and technology to assist you or your company with all digital and electronic analysis. To learn more about how our computer forensic specialists can assist your firm, call us at 1-888-427-5667 or visit us on the web at

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