'Journalists hacked UK government' - police investigate evidence

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Malware, Privacy

Peter HainUK police have warned a former British Cabinet minister that they are investigating evidence that his computer was hacked by private detectives working for Rupert Murdoch's News International organisation and the disgraced "News of the World" newspaper.

Peter Hain, who served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 2005-2007, has been told by Scotland Yard that computers belonging to him, containing sensitive intelligence material, may have been compromised.

The investigation, which raises questions of national security, is also exploring evidence that computers belonging to other senior Northern Ireland civil servants and intelligence agents were also hacked.

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, Hain will be asked to confirm that classified material obtained by police investigators came from his PC.

Yesterday, the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics heard evidence from a former British army intelligence officer, who handled IRA informers in Northern Ireland. Ian Hurst claims that his computer was hacked on behalf of the "News of the World" in 2006.

Not all the claims of computer hacking on behalf of journalists involve political targets, however.

Sienna MillerFor instance, last week, actress Sienna Miller, the former girlfriend of Jude Law, told the Leveson Inquiry that she believes her email account was hacked:

"All my telephone numbers, the three that I changed in three months, my access numbers, PIN numbers, my password for my email that was actually used to later hack my email in 2008 was on these notes," Miller told the inquiry at London's Royal Courts of Justice referring to notes made by "News of the World" private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

It's important that everyone remembers that installing a virus or Trojan horse onto someone else's computer without their authorisation is against the law - and can lead to a lengthy jail sentence.

Just because something can be done, doesn't mean that it should be done.

The goal of Scotland Yard's "Operation Tuleta" investigation is to discover if anyone broke the law in these and associated cases.

No doubt there are more details still to come out of the woodwork, which may raise more concerns about national security as well as unsavoury spying on celebrities and those thrust into the media spotlight.

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4 Responses to 'Journalists hacked UK government' - police investigate evidence

  1. Yossi · 869 days ago

    Deplorable to think that information that was potentially liable to put lives at risk was accessed for the sake of selling papers but also worrying that our national security was easily compromised. I bet that the majority of "hacks" these investigative reporters have done were either guessing simple passwords or social engineering. In which case if it were possible with little effort to get at them it leads anyone to wonder how the likes of China and Iran fare at extracting sensitive details from the same systems.

  2. Fred Sagen · 869 days ago

    This is obviously more than "snooping".

    It is espionage.

  3. Sizzle69 · 869 days ago

    So while we're off chasing and bombing the crap out of these *ahem* alleged "threats" halfway across the world our own media companies are *ahem* allegedly stealing data from government computers. Oh, just fantastic!

    The government and police won't do too much about it. Murdoch has got dirt on all of them and they're all too damn scared of him.

  4. They should be put on trial and if found guilty they should be sent to prison . Let them know that this sort of thing shouldnt be tolarated .

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.