Network Security

Reports: Hacking accusations debunked after leak of New Zealand budget plan


Accusations from New Zealand’s Treasury department that someone had hacked the agency’s website and stole budget plans that was later leaked to the public turned out to be premature, after investigators reportedly determined that individuals were able to access the documentation due to website error.

After details of a forthcoming budget plan promised by New Zealand's Labour coalition government was leaked last Tuesday by members of the country’s opposition party, the Treasury said a malicious hacker was behind the incident. “The treasury has gathered sufficient evidence to indicate that its systems have been deliberately and systematically hacked,” Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said in a statement, according to Reuters. Makhlouf would reportedly later say that the Treasury’s website was attacked 2,000 over two days by hackers looking to view the budget plan whose details were previously leaked.

But New Zealand police reportedly determined that the leak was not the result of illegal activity. Instead, persons working on behalf of the National Party were able to legitimately take advantage of a feature in the website search tool to access the budget plan.

"Police have advised the Treasury that, on the available information, an unknown person or persons appear to have exploited a feature in the website search tool but that this does not appear to be unlawful," the Treasury reportedly said.

National Party leader Simon Bridges has called for Makhlouf, as well as Finance Minister Grant Robertson, to resign in the wake of the controversy.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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