Police admit defeat over Climate Research Unit hack

Filed Under: Data loss, Featured, Law & order

Melting earth. Image from ShutterstockBritish police have admitted that there is no prospect of them identifying who was responsible for a high profile hack of data from the Climate Research Centre (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.

The security breach - dubbed "ClimateGate" - came to light in November 2009, when a 61MB file containing 1079 emails and over 3800 documents was uploaded to the internet, and claims were made that some of the confidential emails revealed how the CRU had tried to hide the truth about climate change.

Inevitably there was much speculation as to who might have been responsible for the hack.

Leaked Hadley CRU documents

Norfolk's police force has now announced that it is closing the investigation because there is "no realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law."

The closure of the investigation is prompted by the statutory limit of three years since the original offence in 2009 has almost expired, with little progress made in discovering the culprit.

"The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging," said Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Julian Gregory. "However, as a result of our enquiries, we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU's data files, carried out remotely via the internet. The offenders used methods common in unlawful internet activity to obstruct enquiries."

DS Gregory stomped on speculation that the hack had been an inside job. "There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime," he said.

Unless someone associated with the hack owns up to their involvement, it seems that the story of "ClimateGate" may remain a mystery.

Melting earth image, courtesy of Shutterstock.

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7 Responses to Police admit defeat over Climate Research Unit hack

  1. Internaut · 774 days ago

    Having researched "Climategate", it appears that two sides were, and continue to belittle the other. Most of the documents 'exposing' CRU are loaded up with adjectives, flames, re-direction, and personal opinions.

    The authors of the varying analysis of the documents degrades as one reads through them and doesn't take long to realize that the authors of the analysis of 'Climategate', are the CRU's opposition, lay skeptics, and those trying to garner more funds from industrial polluters, political hogs, and to baffles and befuddle any reporter with tabloid-style gobbledegook.

    The interesting part is that it has taken the police so long to give up investigating how the documents, emails, and such became available to the hacker come whistleblower instead of investigating the lackadaisical claims of fraud.

    There appears to be as much fraud by the professional and scientific opposition as they claim was within the professional and scientific global warming community and the CRU.

    It is not very hard, and is almost compulsorily nowadays to disbelieve anything any politician says, and if it does sound like there might be a ring of truth to what a politician says, it is taken a lot more than just a grain of salt. So too is the war over climate change. Who to believe - those that are funded by industry and politicos, or those that are funded by NGO's and meager government grants?

    The best thing the police could have done, was to investigate the allegations of fraud, not look for the source of the documents being released.

    • Anon · 773 days ago

      "Having researched "Climategate", it appears that two sides were, and continue to belittle the other. Most of the documents 'exposing' CRU are loaded up with adjectives, flames, re-direction, and personal opinions."

      Both sides are as bad as each other here, I truly do not have any faith in climate science any more as a result of what has been going on with this bitter political slagging match between well funded lobbyists for opposing industries.

      We will never know the truth because there is too much money to be made from Climate Change by both sides in this war.

    • Mike · 771 days ago

      "CRU's opposition, lay skeptics, and those trying to garner more funds from industrial polluters, political hogs, and to baffles and befuddle any reporter with tabloid-style gobbledegook"

      "Who to believe - those that are funded by industry and politicos, or those that are funded by NGO's and meager government grants"

      Easy to see your alliance. BTW there is no such thing as a "meager" government grant. Also, most are a waste of money.

  2. Mark · 774 days ago

    I hope that the police are working with companies and ISP's to provide more tools for future investigations.

  3. I find it somewhat suspicious that the police have made such little progress and are now just giving up, when they seemed able to move heaven and earth to find members of lulzsec or anonymous.

  4. 4caster · 773 days ago

    It would be interesting to know who provides internet security for the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. Before retirement I worked for Met Office Defence Services, which used our good ole faithful Sophos.

  5. jearuiz01 · 704 days ago

    I do agree that the the interesting part is that it has taken the police so long to give up investigating how the documents, emails, and such became available to the hacker come whistleblower instead of investigating the lackadaisical claims of fraud. There appears to be as much fraud by the professional and scientific opposition as they claim was within the professional and scientific global warming community and the CRU.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a 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.