Digitally-enabled surveillance technologies can be used by both state agencies, and those who wish to hold them to account. The state agencies tend to hold the most power is using those capabilities, but they are not the only ways capable of using sophisticated digital technologies.
High-ranking and powerful New Zealanders are among the 150 million people hit by last year’s hacking of software company Adobe, ONE News has revealed.
ONE News has discovered this includes six workers at our spy agency, the GCSB; 75 Defence personnel; 3,200 Government employees including police; and 60 parliamentary staff, among them, Jason Ede – former adviser to John Key – linked to WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater who had his emails hacked.
Questions were raised and discounted as to whether Rawshark had got his hacked emails at the same time.
But here’s what happened. Some time last year, a hacker stole the data of 150 million Adobe users and then shared it with other hackers, the same way pirated software is shared.
That hacked information is now stored on hard-drives around the world and anyone with IT knowhow can get it.
“This data has been promulgated across the world, and so the people who are most likely to have access to it are people that have bothered to go and get it, which are hackers,” Mr Ayers says.
Email accounts of six spy agency workers from the GCSB are among the hacked information, exposing their email addresses and passwords.
The GCSB says it was alerted to the incident at the time and took steps to deal with affected accounts.
This has long been indicated in some discussions about the surveillance society.: it can be used by both the state against it’s people, as well as being used by those wishing to hold state authorities to account.
Since the Snowden leaks, there has been a lot of concern about the widespread use of the digitally enabled spying by state services, against ordinary people, and/or people who wish to hold their government to account.
So much data, as indicated by the May 2013 hacks, held by diverse hackers is quite mind blowing. I’m not sure how this relates to our current political issues and debates in NZ, but it certainly is food for thought.
The best protection against misuse of surveillance capabilities is a strong public service media, on and offline, greater government transparency, and stronger democratic engagement with the general population.
Update: Some 2013 history & Anonymous
It is interesting that when the hack happened in May 2013 and in the months following there was no mention of the hack in the mainstream news. It is even more interesting, given that there was a lot going on with respect to state surveillance at the time. in May 2013, the TICS and GCSB Bills were going through parliament. There were protests against these laws in July 2013.
In August, the new GCSB law, extending it’s brief into surveillance of NZ citizens, and to a focus on “economic security” became law.
During the same months last year, there was widespread discussion about the Snowden leaks of NSA capabilities. in May there were leaks about Thin Thread, and the ability to harvest metadata. In June, many kiwis were expressing concern about Prism.
Also in August, the hacking group calling themselves “Anonymous” issued a warning to the NZ government, in a chilling video:
Opening with “Greetings citizens of New Zealand”, the eight-minute video launches a full scale attack on Prime Minister John Key, warning Kiwis of the dangers of their country becoming more like the USA.
“To the citizens of New Zealand: Due to the inevitable corruption of your government we have decided to broaden the scope of our NZ operations.”
During the next week operation kiwi freedom will come in to full affect, with the video transcript ending with:
WE ARE ANONYMOUS.
WE ARE LEGION.
WE DO NOT FORGIVE.
WE DO NOT FORGET.
NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT.
YOU SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED US.
There seems to be some sort of digital warfare going on. The public only gets a small amount of information on it, so it is hard to understand exactly what is going on.