Hackers 'Responsible' for £546m of Illegal Deforestation in the Amazon
By Charlotte Cardingham
Published on 15 Dec 2008

Hackers have accessed Brazilian government computer systems and helped 107
companies obtain permits that enabled them to fell over £546million ($833m)
worth of timbre illegally.

In what has come as a shocking revelation, it appears that hi-tech hackers
have played an instrumental role in the illegal deforestation of 1.7million
cubic meters of the Amazon rain forest.

According to reports from environmental organization Greenpeace, the hackers
were hired by at least 107 different companies to access and alter timber
export records held by the Brazilian government. As a result, it's estimated
that an area of forest the size of 780 Olympic swimming pools has been
cleared illegally.

The allegations centre on the Brazilian state of Para which uses a
computer-only system to monitor deforestation and issue logging permits to
local companies.

At the present time, any logging or charcoal company working in the state is
allocated a maximum amount of timbre that it is allowed to fell in any one
year, details of which are issued in the form of a series of permits. Once a
company has fulfilled this annual quota, no further timbre transport permits
will be issued by the local authorities. However, it is these records that
the hackers have accessed and altered, allowing a vast amount of timbre to
be felled illegally.

Federal prosecutor Daniel Avelino is currently mounting a law suit against
the companies involved in the scam, with 202 individuals facing prosecution
at this stage.

Working on behalf of the Brazilian government he intends to sue the
subversive companies for a total of 2billion reais (£546million), the market
value of the illegally felled timber.

Speaking on behalf of Greenpeace, André Muggiati, an environmental
campaigner working in Manaus, commented. "We've pointed out before that this
method of controlling the transport of timber was subject to fraud. And this
is only the tip of the iceberg, because the same computer system is also
used in two other Brazilian states.

"By hacking into the permit system, these companies have made their timber
shipments appear legal and compliant with the forest management plans. But
in reality, they're trading illegal timber which is making the problem of
deforestation worse, and a lack of control and policing in the areas they're
logging means they think they can get away with it."


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