Mexico said Friday that it had suffered a major hack of data held by the armed forces, including details about the president’s heart condition.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed the theft, which was first revealed by local media overnight.
“It’s true, there was a cyber hack,” he said, noting that hackers had exploited a change in the military’s IT systems.
However, he said that no sensitive information had been stolen.
What do we know about the data theft?
The six terabytes of data stolen included, among other things, Lopez Obrador’s state of health and a number of security issues, the news portal Latinus reported.
According to Latinus’ assessment, tens of thousands of emails and documents were hacked, dating from 2016 to September this year.
The data also reportedly included details of criminal figures, transcripts of communications, and the monitoring of the US ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar.
Other documents referred to details of a failed military operation to arrest a son of drug baron Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman in 2019.
Why the fuss about the president’s health?
The hack revealed personal details about the 68-year-old president’s angina, which he was treated 10 times for in the first half of January.
Lopez Obrador had a heart attack in 2013 and was admitted to hospital at the beginning of the year because of the risk he could suffer another.
The government had previously said the president underwent a cardiac catheterization that month.
Who was behind the hacking?
The hack was reportedly carried out by a group identified in local media as “Guacamaya” or macaw — a bird species native to Central and South America.
The hacking group has carried out similar attacks in other Latin American countries.
Among the group’s previous victims were the militaries of Chile, Peru, Colombia and El Salvador.
They’ve also targeted regional mining and oil companies.
The hacktivists have published a manifesto in Spanish accusing the United States and Western corporations of overexploiting the region’s natural resources.
Critic blasts military’s growing influence
A journalist and critic of the government, Carlos Loret said the leak showed how much influence the military had acquired under Lopez Obrador’s administration.
The president has tasked the armed forces with everything from building infrastructure to overseeing customs.
“This is also a ministry that lapsed in its cyber security and was left exposed, even as the country debates the role of the armed forces in the country,” Loret said in an online video.
Legislation that allows the armed forces to fight crime was extended by lawmakers earlier is month, despite criticism of alleged abuses and concerns the government is militarizing internal security.