How Politicians Become Data Breach Victims and Leakers | InfoWatch

You are here

How Politicians Become Data Breach Victims and Leakers

Politicians inevitably access restricted information, such as state secrets, election campaign plans, personal data of party members, and other information that can be leaked as a result of various incidents. This is a digest of recent data leaks from executive and legislative bodies and political organizations, prepared by InfoWatch Analytical Center.

In February, a White House source was reported to have leaked nearly every day of President Trump's private schedule for the past three months. The schedule shows that up to 60% of the President’s work day is unstructured “Executive Time”, which he spends in the residence, watching TV, reading the papers, tweeting, and making phone calls to friends, administration officials and informal advisers. Therefore, President Trump usually starts his official day only around 11 am. However, journalists say that he can also have some unplanned events and meetings that are not put on the agenda out of fear of a data breach.

In early 2019, Germany's investigative police force, the BKA, arrested the 20-year-old hacker from the state of Hesse responsible for what some called one of the largest data leaks in Germany's history. The young man now faces charges of stealing and illegally publishing personal data of many leading politicians, celebrities, journalists, and others, including phone numbers, email addresses, internal party documents, and credit card details. However, the Interior Minister stressed that most victims had very little sensitive data stolen, with only 50-60 people being affected the most. The BKA said the suspect had indicated he was motivated by “anger at the public statements of the politicians, journalists and public figures concerned.”

The UK's Labour Party was forced to lock down access to membership databases and campaign tools over concerns the information was being sucked up in a possible breach. The Party's General Secretary, Jennie Formby, said the Party had “become aware of a number of attempts to access personal data” on its systems by one or more of the Labour MPs that left the Party to form The Independent Group and tried to take members' details with them for use in future campaigns.

Australia's three largest political parties – Liberal, Labor and the Nationals – were hit as a result of an attack on Parliament House's network, Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, confirmed. The incident, that was likely the work of a foreign government, forced all 4,000 parliamentarians and staff to reset their passwords.

Latvian Saeima deputy Juris Jurašs (New Conservative Party) was charged with leaking state secrets. In particular, Mr. Jurašs is suspected of leaking information about investigations conducted by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB). The Saeima voted to allow pressing charges against Jurašs and limiting his parliament participation.