Thursday 29 August 2013

Hactivists gun for MP's behind NZ spy bill

Hackers threaten to reveal secrets of New Zealand MPs behind snooping bill
The Anonymous hacker group has threatened to post New Zealand MPs’ secrets online after the country’s parliament passed an NSA-style spying bill. It follows a hack by the group against the NZ government that took out the Kiwi secret services’ website.

28 August, 2013

In an interview over an encrypted link with New Zealand newspaper the Herald, the hacktivist group said they would target the politicians responsible for a so-called snooping bill. The group said they were giving the MPs a chance to prove to the NZ public that they had nothing to hide.

"Releasing such personal information sends a message that they're not very hard to find, they aren't the only ones who can gather intelligence,” a representative of Anonymous said.

The hacktivist organization knocked out the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) website on Friday in a denial-of-service attack. In the interview with the Herald, the group said the cyber-attack was merely a distraction that masked another hack to obtain secret data.

Anonymous is opposing an amendment that was passed by the New Zealand parliament on August 21. The legislation would grant the GCSB – New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA – new powers to support the country’s police, Defense Force and Security Intelligence Service.

Opponents of the controversial bill have criticized the legislation as ambiguous, and say it could open the door to NSA-style surveillance. Anonymous has characterized the bill as “an unadulterated violation of human rights, constitutionally illegal, and an invasion of the people's privacy.”

They have also criticized NZ Prime Minister John Key, who championed the bill, for failing to stand up to the US.
The GCSB confirmed the hack attack Friday, but rejected the claims that classified data had been taken.

The debate over the GCSB’s new powers triggered a number of mass protests, with three quarters of New Zealanders “concerned” by the amendment, according to a survey by Fairfax Media-Ipsos.

However, Key has rejected criticism of the bill as fueled by “misinformation” and “conspiracy” fears stirred up by the country’s opposition. He has trenchantly defended the bill as necessary to protect the country’s cyber-security in the face of various threats.

"There will be times where a serious cyber-intrusion is detected against a New Zealander and the GCSB will then need to look at content – that's why the law allows that. But that should be the end point, not the starting point," Key said.

One of the most vocal members of the NZ opposition, Kim Dotcom, founder of MegaUploads, said the so-called threats were “imaginary” and a justification for “a radical termination of our basic rights.”

Last January New Zealand police stormed Dotcom’s mansion in Auckland, seizing digital material and other assets. A judge later ruled that the raid was illegal. Since then Dotcom has accused the New Zealand government of collaborating with the US secret services.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Go right ahead - spill the beans on Dunne!

Spy law MPs target of 'hacktivist' group
Shadowy band that closed GCSB website says it will expose the secrets of politicians who passed controversial legislation.

David Fisher

Mr Dunne said it was likely hacking and release of private information would lead to calls for the Government to get tougher on security. Photo / Michael Craig

28 August, 2013

Politicians who were instrumental in the passing of the controversial GCSB law are being targeted by an international hacker group which wants to dump their secrets online.

The Anonymous group of "hacktivists" say they will give the politicians who voted the bill in the chance to prove they truly have nothing to hide - and nothing to fear.

In an interview with the Herald, carried out through encrypted chat services, an Anonymous member named Prime Minister John Key, his deputy Bill English and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson as top of the hit list. United Future leader Peter Dunne and Act leader John Banks were also named.

"Releasing such personal information sends a message that they're not very hard to find, they aren't the only ones who can gather intelligence.

The Anonymous group has already conducted a successful strike against the Government, knocking the GCSB website offline on Friday. The person speaking to the Herald claimed to be a New Zealander and to have co-ordinated the attack.

The Herald contacted the person through two YouTube videos which threatened action. The YouTube account was linked to Twitter messages sent to the MPs being targeted.

Internationally, the Anonymous group has caused havoc for corporations, governments and other organisations with hack attacks and operations designed to overwhelm and shut down computer systems. They have been called both cyber-terrorists and freedom fighters, attracting international law enforcement action and arrests by the FBI. The group maintains it can continue in spite of the arrests, using the slogan "We are legion" and saying it has no central body.

The Anonymous member said the denial of service attack on Friday which took down the GCSB website was a distraction for an attack which secured secret data. The action had been driven by the passing of the new GCSB law. "It's an unadulterated violation of human rights, constitutionally illegal, and an invasion of the people's privacy. John Key is weak for giving in to the United States."

Told involvement in the attack risked jail, the person said: "You sign up to the army, you get deployed in Afghanistan. There is always a risk of getting killed, but it's a risk they are willing to take for their country."

A GCSB spokesman confirmed the attack, saying no moves were underway to find the culprit and there was no record of data being taken.

Mr Key had no comment. However, Mr Dunne said it was likely hacking and release of private information would lead to calls for the Government to get tougher on security.

Asked if he had information he'd rather keep hidden, he said: "I'm just not sure. There may be things but I'm not sure where they are located."

Intelligence service on hunt for new director
The spy agency charged with protecting New Zealand from "violent extremism and espionage" is looking for a new leader.

28 August, 2013

The NZ Security Intelligence Service has advertised for a new director, highlighting the need to "build trust in the intelligence and security sector".

The service's role is to investigate threats to New Zealand, protect the country from foreign spies and to spy on other countries.

It has a more feet-on-the-ground approach to intelligence than the Government Communications Security Bureau, which has just had electronic surveillance powers extended to allow it to spy on New Zealanders.

The bureau was recently embarrassed when caught illegally spying on internet tycoon Kim Dotcom for the police.

The NZSIS position description revealed that the ripples of the illegal spying affair continue, with the incoming director told to make sure the issues raised in the GCSB review did not reflect problems across the intelligence sector.

The job ad also forecast more co-operation with the GCSB.

The position comes vacant with the retirement of Dr Warren Tucker, a constant figure in intelligence and security services over the past 30 years.

A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key paid tribute to Dr Tucker. "He has made a significant contribution to the country's security and intelligence sector, for which the Prime Minister is very grateful."

The last vacancy in the security services was the GCSB director's job, filled by current director Ian Fletcher in February 2012.

The appointment of Mr Fletcher caused scandal when it emerged he was known to the Prime Minister from school. It emerged Mr Key had reached out to Mr Fletcher to ask him to interview for the position after being unable to fill the role.

Mr Fletcher's appointment was seen as a shift to the future from the GCSB's military-bound, bunkered roots.

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