Posted on October 2, 2022 at 9:24 AM
The Mexican government has admitted to a hack inducted by a global group of hackers against the Ministry of National Defense. The hackers managed to steal thousands of emails from the Ministry’s IT systems.
Hackers infiltrate Mexico’s Ministry of Defense
The Mexican government stated on Friday saying that it was the victim of a major cyberattack where data held by the country’s armed forces was stolen. Some of the stolen details include the heart condition of the country’s President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The heart condition had led to the President being hospitalized in January.
While speaking at a news conference, the President admitted that the information released on local media after a hack on the Defense Ministry was genuine. He also confirmed the details revealed about his medical condition.
He also added that hackers had exploited changes within the military’s IT systems. The reports by the media say that the hackers managed to access six terabytes of data from the Defense Ministry. The breached data includes information about criminals, communication transcripts, and monitoring data on the US ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar.
The hack also comes shortly after the Mexican government said that a military helicopter that crashed in July and caused the deaths of 14 people was caused by the helicopter running out of fuel.
The leaks of sensitive documents from the country’s Ministry of Defense have raised several concerns. Javier Oliva, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, has expressed their concern regarding the incident.
In a report by Reuters, Oliva said that the leaks pointed toward a “very serious show of vulnerability.” Moreover, the hacks happened at a crucial time, given that the role of the Mexican military has been hotly debated recently.
As aforementioned, the hack revealed details about the health condition of the country’s President. The documents revealed that the President has a heart condition known as angina. Moreover, the President had ten medical consultations during the first half of January.
Lopez Obrador suffered from a heart attack in 2013. Following this heart attack, Obrador returned to hospital in January, fearing that he would suffer another heart attack. During the month, the government released a statement saying that the President had undergone cardiac catheterization. Obrador also said that the President was under medication and that he was taking exercises to manage his blood pressure levels.
However, the President has said that despite the high amount of drugs he takes every night, he is doing very well.
“An international group of hackers has exposed tens of thousands of emails stored in Ministry of National Defense servers. Communications from 2016 to September 2022… Texts, attached files, information cards, letters, videos, many of which are classified as confidential,” he added.
Hack attributed to a foreign hacking group
The hack against Mexico’s Defense Ministry has been linked to the “Guacamaya” hacking group, also known as “macaw” in Spanish. Obrador has also said that the hacking group behind the incident is most likely a foreign entity.
Distributed Denial of Secrets, a leaks database, has said that the Guacamaya hacking group is conducted several hacking attacks targeting security agencies based in Latin America. The hacking group has claimed responsibility for hacking attacks in Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, and Peru.
The platform has also shared a statement from the hacking group. In the statement, the hacking group has accused the armed forces in the Latin America region of criminal violence and for supporting “extractive companies from the Global North.”
The details leaked after this hack have also been used to criticize the military’s actions. Carlos Loret, a journalist based in Mexico, and a critic of the government, is among the first people that reported the leak.
Loret has said that the details revealed by the threat actors showed that the Mexican armed forces had acquired a lot of power under the presidency of Lopez Obrador. Obrador tasked the military with various functions, including creating infrastructure and overseeing customs.
In September, Mexican lawmakers passed legislation that extended the remit of the armed forces to fight crime and conduct other functions, defying the criticism that the military had conducted several abuses. Moreover, there are also concerns that the government has militarized public security.