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HomeTech NewsMexican army stands "naked" after hacker attack

Mexican army stands “naked” after hacker attack

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Millions of confidential documents were stolen in the largest hack in Mexican history. Calls for a cybersecurity law are getting louder.

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The Mexican army has been the victim of an unprecedented cyber attack. An international activist group called Guacamaya penetrated the Department of Defense (Sedena) computer system and gained access to information dating from 2016 to September of this year. “Hacking into 4.1 million military documents will expose the country’s most important institution,” writes columnist Salvador Camarena in the Mexican daily’s Monday edition El Economista. His colleague Alejo Sáchenz Cano has a similar headline in the same newspaper: “Sedena and the President are stripped naked.”

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At the end of last week, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador confirmed the attack, which probably took place on September 19 and was first reported on by the online portal LatinUS. “They took advantage of the fact that in the army they are making a change in the information system, as a general told me. That’s why the hackers are professionals, they break into the system and take out all the information,” Lopez Obrador said in one his daily press conferences.

But the country’s security is not at risk, said Mexico’s President. It is the third known hacker attack on the Mexican army in recent years. The current attack is believed to be the largest cyber attack in the country’s history. The attackers stole more than six terabytes of information, more than four million documents, including thousands of confidential, previously unpublished emails and documents on security operations, army contracts and information on the president’s health.

“I’m sick, I have several ailments,” the most serious of which is high blood pressure, the President explained in his press conference. At the same time, he denied that the stolen information was new. “It wasn’t anything that wasn’t already known or shouldn’t already be known. They thought they had the big story, but they don’t have anything,” he said.

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The attack was carried out by the Guacamaya activist group, which originated in Central America. The group appears to be more of a “hacktivist” operation aimed at leaking documents for social justice purposes than seeking financial gain or ransom for breaching government computer systems through a cyberattack. The group itself claims it uses hacking to expose injustice and corruption to protect tribal peoples.

So far, the hacker network’s attacks have focused on mining and oil companies, the police and various Latin American regulators. For example, hackers operating under the name of Guacamaya stole and published emails from a mining company that has long been accused of human rights violations and environmental damage in Guatemala.

According to the LatinUS portal, Guacamaya’s main goal was to obtain information about the Chilean army, but they also managed to break into the Internet servers of the armies of El Salvador, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. The group said it would make the documents available to journalists, but only a small portion of them have been released so far, perhaps because of the sheer volume of information.

In Mexico, the hack has fueled calls for a cybersecurity law. The hacking of the Ministry of Defense (Sedena) shows the need for a federal cybersecurity law in Mexico and the vulnerability of state agencies, Javier López Casarín, chairman of the Chamber of Deputies’ Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation, told Mexican media. “Not only because of the attack on the Sedena servers, but also because every citizen, every company, every public or private institution can be attacked by cybercriminals.”

Crimes like that against the Sedena, the expert said, should be considered serious crimes “that threaten the economy, heritage or security of the nation.” In the past, Mexico’s state-owned electricity supplier CFE, the oil company Pemex and the national lottery had all fallen victim to cyber attacks.


(akn)

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