Treasury has referred the apparent leaking of Budget information to police, saying it has sufficient evidence to indicate that its systems have been deliberately and systematically hacked.
But National leader Simon Bridges has hit back very hard, saying National had acted “entirely appropriately” and that Finance Minister Grant Robertson was attempting to smear him to cover up incompetence – and would need to reisgn.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said Treasury had taken immediate steps to increase the security of all Budget-related information and would be undertaking a full review of information security processes.
“Following this morning’s media reports of a potential leak of Budget information, the Treasury has gathered sufficient evidence to indicate that its systems have been deliberately and systematically hacked,” Makhlouf said.
Here’s my guess at what happened. I am guessing, and have talked to no one on this. In fact I’m not even in the country.
But when I worked for the Opposition in 2000 or 2001, I recall waiting for the Government to release the Police crime stats. They always put a positive spin on it.
I went to the Police website and looked at last year’s stats. I also looked at the previous year. They had the same URL format. I changed the year to the current one, and hey presto I had the official crime states four hours before the Government was due to release them. I gave them to the Shadow Minister and they happily released them before the Minister. Hawkins was reportedly furious about the “leak”.
Around six months later I was chatting to a friend in the Commissioner’s Office and asked him if the early release had caused any problems with the Minister. I was amazed to find out the Minister had ordered a leak inquiry and even had private investigators searching the computers of the Commissioner’s office to try and find out who the leak was. I burst out laughing and told the friend that there was no leak, and I merely guessed the URL as someone has stuck them up early on the Internet. The leak inquiry was then terminated, but I am told the relationship between Police HQ and the Minister never recovered.
So my guess is something similar has happened. That possibly the material was put up on a website of some sort and someone found it. Treasury are calling it hacking because they didn’t think it was open to the public. But there is a difference between hacking a secure computer system, and locating information that is on the Internet (even if hidden). Was there any cracking of passwords for example?
Now I’m guessing about this, but the strength of the reply from Bridges suggests it was something along these lines. I’d be amazed if it really was a hack of Treasury’s internal computer systems.
I guess we’ll find out soon.
My guess is looking good based on this tweet by No Right Turn: