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Thousands of Whistle Blowers Vulnerable After Anonymous Hacks SAPS 132

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hacktivism-gone-wrong dept.
First time accepted submitter fezzzz writes "Anonymous performed a data dump of hundreds of whistle blowers' private details in an attempt to show their unhappiness with the SAPS (South African Police Service) for the Marikana shooting. In so doing, the identities of nearly 16,000 South Africans who lodged a complaint with police on their website, provided tip-offs, or reported crimes are now publicly available." Reader krunster also submitted a slightly more in depth article on the breach.
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Thousands of Whistle Blowers Vulnerable After Anonymous Hacks SAPS

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  • Out of character... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Draque (1367509) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:22AM (#43793685)
    How on earth does this fit with Anonymous' general philosophy of helping the little guy against the oppressive regime? Nine times out of ten they take that philosophy to an insane extreme, but this seems just the opposite.
    • are you kidding (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      they're in it for the lulz you dumbass

      • That must be it because they aren't in it for justice. Neither is wikileaks. This is why I hate both of them. They take it upon themselves to be guardians of justice but have no concern for their own wrongdoings. For example, wikileaks original claim to fame was the collateral murder video, which they put off as US soldiers simply committing murder. When it was investigated though, there was no wrongdoing - you can clearly see those guys carrying weapons (a Kalashnikov of some variation and an RPG are easil

        • by Eskarel (565631)

          You can't really compare wikileaks and anonymous though.

          I have my issues with the way wikileaks behaves, and I think Julian Assange is a egotistical coward with psychopathic tendencies, but at least the goal of wikileaks, freedom of information, is something that is noble. Anonymous is just the mob.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The problem is that Anonymous isn't exactly organized so it might just be a small part of it or maybe even someone else trying to discredit them.

    • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:40AM (#43793931) Journal

      fit with Anonymous' general philosophy

      A bunch of teenagers wanking off to a Natalie Portman movie have time to form a "general philosophy"?

    • by TWX (665546)
      I think that this is more of a "government snitches get stitches" kind of thing, where one assumes that all functions of that organization are bad.

      In my view, the problem is that since the police are the only official authority to take such crime-related complaints to in the first place, this leak punishes those that are simply trying to get justice served, who have no other authority to take their complaints or other information to.

      On another note, isn't the point of "Anonymous", written into the nam
      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        On another note, isn't the point of "Anonymous", written into the name and everything, that there is no real structure, that there are no real decision makers beyond everyone individually choosing what they're going to work on,

        No. You're confusing the words "anonymous" and "anarchist".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:44AM (#43793999)

      How on earth does this fit with Anonymous' general philosophy of helping the little guy against the oppressive regime?

      Whoever said anything about helping the little guy? Anonymous is against the established legal system and for anybody who is against it, including terrorists (some of Anonymous's most high-profile actions recently have been lead by Hamas members, and core Anonymous members are not complaining). Dumping the names of people who cooperate with police to encourage criminal retaliation against them would be completely within Anonymous's character.

      Mostly they're about exercising power to harm someone else because it makes them feel good, and making up a justification later.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      I generally agree, but since they aren't exactly an organized group, philosophical differences will come about from time to time.

      That said, it's kind of hard to imagine doing something against their site without harming innocents while at the same time doing anything which draws attention to problems there. The SA police response was initially denial followed by "no comment." So they still aren't doing anything as far as anyone can tell. And according to the two articles, they are also quite negligent in

      • by hrimhari (1241292)

        I can understand why a group interested in justice and equality would expose the sensitive details of people in the databases.

        I understand that as meaning "this group doesn't know how to pick their targets".

        And it's not like there's not already a whole lot of danger and unfairness in South Africa -- the "net condition" will not really change.

        So let's put people trying to make things better at risk?

        (...)Pubic awareness and especially global public awareness will have been raised

        The awareness I get from this is that hackers can give a huge blow against whistle blowers with no real "net gain" to any cause.

    • by jythie (914043)
      It sounds like they are trying to hurt the particular police force an its abuses of other 'little guys', but also to highlight that people should not be using SAPS's 'whistleblower' system in the first place because it tracks personal data. They really should have anonomized it before posting, but the people in the database were already probably at risk from internal misuse an corruption.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It sounds like they are trying to hurt the particular police force an its abuses of other 'little guys', but also to highlight that people should not be using SAPS's 'whistleblower' system in the first place because it tracks personal data. They really should have anonomized it before posting, but the people in the database were already probably at risk from internal misuse an corruption.

        Am I the only one that is speculating that an Anonymous member got snitched out to SAPS and the larger release was just to hide the real target? Regardless, an organization based on anonymity should be careful about breaching that of others.

    • by bmo (77928)

      My tinfoil hat says that this isn't Anonymous.

      This is SAPS getting back at people who rat them out. Covering it up with a tweet blaming Anonymous.

      As long as you have a frightening scapegoat like Anonymous, you can do all sorts of things and get away with it. In the past, it was yellow peril, commies, etc.

      --
      BMO

      • First thought I had was this as well.

        Then I recalled the SAPS officer that struggled to write down a statement in printed letters and the officers without driving licenses. Those with the skills to do this are not the thugs on the street patrols that the complaints would have been about.

        There was a joke in the old days about why there were 3 SAP officers in a van, one to do the reading, one to do the writing and the third to keep an eye on the two intellectuals. I suspect it is still much the same.

        • And replying to myself.....

          Reading the associated Twitter account, the voice seems young and very un-South African to my mind. Seems more like US or British youf.

          • Reading the associated Twitter account, the voice seems young and very un-South African to my mind. Seems more like US or British youf.

            My initial reaction was one of incredulous fury...

            And then I realised, based on last visit to my local cop-shop, that this probably had less to do with breaking in and more to do with some incompetent leaving the door unlocked...

            I'm feeling sorry for the (probably last two) remaining decent cops in the SAPS. Stuff like this must be damned demoralising.

            But I think you are right that this is a foreigner; but from the Twitter bio I get the feeling this is an Aussie.

    • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:15AM (#43794301) Homepage Journal

      Anonymous is as much a organisation as people waiting at a bus stop are. And guess what, criminals also take the bus.

      • And guess what, criminals also take the bus.

        Ahh, *this* is why buses are so slow to arrive!

      • Anonymous is as much a organisation as people waiting at a bus stop are. And guess what, criminals also take the bus.

        And I'm sure the rest of Anonymous will speak out against this action annnnnny day now. Right? After all, an "organization" that is strong enough to stand up to governments should be strong enough to self police their own ranks, right?

    • by Jyms (598745)
      Clearly you are not all that familiar with modern day South Africa. The current government is plenty oppressive and becoming more so by the day. Apartheid era laws are being used to "control" the populace and new laws, like the Protection of State Information bill, are being implemented to prevent the government from being held accountable for its actions. The ANC is becoming the NP it replaced.
    • by Eskarel (565631)

      Anonymous' general philosophy isn't "help the little guy" it's "fuck the consequences".

      Once they get in their head that someone has done something wrong, for instance in this case the South African Police, they'll attack them and who cares if anyone else is harmed.

      I get that you can't really expect much more from a group of what are essentially script kiddies with no one telling them what not to do, but can we stop pretending that they're some bastion of justice and freedom and whatnot, they're the nerd rag

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Proof that Anonymous are idiots.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:24AM (#43793703) Journal
    Maybe someone else has a beef with some whistle blowers and wanted to expose some names.

    Now you always have Anonymous to blame...
    • I will be very surprised if there aren't deaths directly as a result of this.
    • by x_IamSpartacus_x (1232932) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:00AM (#43794179)
      Posting from Mozambique:

      You don't know how right you are. This is REMARKABLY stupid and dangerous. The countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are developing and with development comes all the growing pains, not least of which is very very corrupt police. Police in South Africa and elsewhere on this continent can be very vindictive and outright murderous when upset about people disrespecting their authority. A few months ago a teenager from Mozambique was dragged to death behind a South African police car because the police who "randomly" stopped him felt disrespected. If the people on these lists know about this hack and their names being made public there is a very real and justified fear they now permanently live in. If they don't know about this hack (a bit more likely in a developing country with a not-so-exposed-to-the-internet underclass) they may be blissfully unaware of the danger they are in but that does not change the its depth.

      Whoever released this info has very real blood on their hands. I don't give a damn about the title "Anonymous", the script kiddies who released this info are accessories to the horrible vindictive violence that will assuredly come, and the potential of the loss of life for many of the names released.

      The stupidity of this move cannot be overstated. Be ashamed of yourselves "Anonymous". Be ashamed for your lack of disciplining your own.

    • by poity (465672)
      Is that the No True Anonymous explanation?
  • Wait what?!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:25AM (#43793723)

    Hackers ... This, they said was “for the 34 miners killed during clashes with police in Marikana on August 16 2012”.

    So to protest the miners being killed by police, the hackers hack in, steal the information of other folks who had problems with police and then release it thus exposing those same people to reprisals?

    What a bunch of fuck tards!

    My comment about SAPS is no better. In short, they come across as brutish, stupid thugs. They are not police, just a gang with fancy uniforms.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      No, these are folks who were helping the police.

      Clearly the plan if we can even call it that is to punish those who assist the police.

      • by GodInHell (258915)
        Has anonymous adopted the snitches get stitches policy of suppression?
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          It does appear that way.

          I am not sure we should be referring to them as some sort of group though. my understanding is that right now I could do anything and claim I was acting as part of anonymous. So they really have policies in that case.

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          Obviously taking their Cue for Julian Assange who has who seem to think rule 2 is "No member of the faculty is to maltreat the "Abos" in any way whatsoever—if there's anyone watching."
      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        No, these are folks who were helping the police.

        So, if I call the police because my property was stolen and I want a police report filed so insurance will cover it, I'm somehow "helping police"? If I "file a complaint" about the police, I'm somehow helping them? If I call in to report, in confidence, a criminal who is vandalizing the neighborhood, I'm somehow "helping the police" shoot a bunch of miners?

        What a fascinating universe you live in, with all the definitions of things upside down and the moon made of green cheese and all.

        There is no excuse f

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:30AM (#43793787)

    Live by mob vigilante justice, die by mob vigilante justice.

    One of the reasons that you generally dont want vigilantes running around is that its really hard to hold them accountable... especially when their very name is "anonymity". Of course, the "real" (?) anonymous could just deny involvement, and everyone can go back to cheering them on the next time they hack the current Big Bad.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It is interesting how mob vigilante justice doesn't seem to occur in places where there is a real functioning justice system in place.

      Vigilantes is a symptom, not the problem.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:39AM (#43793917) Homepage
    the entire summary and the first half of the article is basically an agenda for discrediting anonymous and whitewashing the local cops.
    the leak was in response to the complaints from citizens sent to the police department, assigned a case number, and basically ignored by the police. what were the complaints about? the shooting death of 34 platinum mine workers by the police. you dont need to worry about exposing whistleblowers because the police killed 34 mine workers during a protest pretty much describes the suspects. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10016471/South-Africa-the-Massacre-That-Changed-a-Nation-BBC-Two-review.html [telegraph.co.uk]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:16AM (#43794313)

      RTFA the complaints of ANONYMOUS are about that. The whistle-blowers are trying to put a STOP to various instances of police brutality. So anonymous is protesting police brutality by posting the personal information of the VERY PEOPLE BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON IT.

    • by Main Gauche (881147) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:28AM (#43794429)

      According to the second article above provided by krunster, the hackers posted this message with the data dump:

      "South African Police Service Web site hacked saps.gov.za database and e-mails leaked. The reason for this action is to serve as a reminder to the government regarding the murders of 34 protesting miners outside the Marikana platinum mine by police. To date no officers have been brought to justice... This situation will NOT be tolerated. #OpMarikanaMiners @domaineranon.”

      So in response to the alleged 34 murders, the hackers expose 16000 names of innocent people to "punish" the cops? This would be like punishing Hitler by gassing American Jews.

      If even one of those 16K people is killed as a result of this, the hackers become accessories to murder, in my book.

  • by SoTerrified (660807) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:46AM (#43794015)
    ...It was always vulnerable. People seem upset that 'Anonymous' has revealed the list of whistleblowers. What you have to realize is that the police had that information so poorly secured, anyone with any computer knowledge could easily access it. So the police were leaving a list of whistleblowers out there dangling in the wind for anyone who had any ability to look. All Anonymous has done is reveal what the police were doing... Poorly securing important information. Hopefully that message won't be lost as people try to pin the blame for poor security on the people who revealed it was poor. Don't blame the messenger. Blame the people who have sensitive information and don't put in the effort to secure it.
    • by Viol8 (599362) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:50AM (#43794059)

      Just because someone leaves something vulnerable does NOT give anyone the right to exploit that vulnerability under some phoney guise of showing them how vulnerable it was in the first place. Thats the logic of the self justifying fool.

      • by Xest (935314)

        That old man was always vulnerable, it's not my fault for mugging him. If I didn't, someone would.

      • by nhat11 (1608159)

        I agree Viol8 AND not only that spread that information EVERYWHERE on top of that does not give them the right morally or ethnically release that information.

      • Just because someone leaves something vulnerable does NOT give anyone the right to exploit that vulnerability.

        You don't understand. The poor security of the police meant those whistleblowers were already exposed to anyone with a little computer skill. This put them at risk without the whistleblowers even knowing about it. So Anonymous took this public step that, whatever reason they said they did it for, at the very least let the whistleblowers KNOW they were vulnerable.
        You're trying to say "Just because a door is open doesn't mean you can walk in". But what I'm saying is there are innnocent people who counte

    • I think the brand of car you are driving is poorly engineered, puts your children at risk and was done so to save money for the company who created it. So to expose this, I'm going to crash into it while your wife is dirving the kids home from school. Sorry if your kids happen to die or get horribly mained as a result; but don't blame me, I'm just the messenger. Blame the executives at the car company who could of spent a little more money to engineer their product better and didn't put in the effort.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      So, if I walk by your house and find out your front door is unlocked, you are ok if I open your door, walk in, and carry out all of your electronics and valuables and leave them on the front lawn for people to take? I would bear absolutely ZERO responsiblity if your stuff got stolen?
    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      Your house has windows. That makes you vulnerable to theft. Under your logic, If I break into your house and steal from you, it is your fault.
  • This article completely ignores the big elephant in the room. Why was this information on a server hosted on the Internet? Shouldn't information like this be separated on a separate subnet? It talks about Intrusion detection systems and all sorts of technology to mitigate the risk, but the answer is simple. If your business data is isolated completely from your public facing presence, you need an insider or a physical break-in to be at risk.

  • Whistle Blowers? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sesshomaru (173381) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @09:57AM (#43794157) Journal

    Look, police informants are not whistle blowers. You may think they deserve to be protected, but the term whistle blower has a specific meaning that does not equate to police informant.

    • exactly! that distinction *totally* justifies putting their [human] life at risk!

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Look, police informants are not whistle blowers. You may think they deserve to be protected,

      Look, I know RTFA is not common here on /., but by doing so you make yourself look like an idiot. These people were not "police informants". Here's what the fine article has to say about the people now in danger:

      Complaints range from rape cases opened in Durban to police brutality in Port Elizabeth. Also on the list are ordinary South Africans asking for help in cases involving vehicle theft and illegal shebeens.

      Oh, my God! These people DARED to report their car stolen to THE POLICE! They deserve no prote

  • In a country where many law abiding citizens are literally held hostage in their own homes due to the amount of violent crime and we plead for people to come forward with information and they actually do, and we have success in many cases due to these tip offs, some asshat goes and publishes the list over the Marikana issue which they most likely have no clue about since I suspect they are not from South Africa to begin with. Congratulations - innocent blood is going to be spilled because of this and its on
  • I have 2 theories. One is Anonymous didn't do this and someone else is lying. Two is anonymous is just as stupid as they seem and just as stupid as any other hacker. Defacement, data stealing, database leaking, causing downtime, they're all considered some pretend major victory by those mostly incompetent morons and script kiddies. They pretend like they can do anything but back in real life you need vulnerable system and specific security flaws to get into something. So if they can't bring the site dow
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:26AM (#43794407)
    From the second article, emphasis mine:

    "The hackers (@DomainerAnon) â" believed to be associated with hacktivist group Anonymous..."

    Has a confirmed Anon source stated that it was an Anon op? A splinter group like LulzSec? An agent provocateur?

    This reeks of a frame. It's out of character.
  • They're trying to paint juvenile attacks and posting private data with a veneer of social justice. I've actually wasted my time digging through a couple of their dumps. They're completely arbitrary. I'm sure their membership trawls the interwebz looking for vulnerable systems, and when they're digging around one associated with a "bad guy," they post what they've found and pat themselves on the back. Real social justice is based on a philosophy more distinct than "ooh lookie what WE found!".

  • I can't stand these small screen things they shit me I wrote a whole story in the title box and can't fix it fuck the world and its cruel technology that if you can't use it means you fucking live in slavery

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