A hacker breached the Argentinian government’s IT network and stole information on every citizen in the country. The data is now shared and sold online, and the public’s eyes are on celebrities and politicians in particular.
The hack targeted RENAPER—Argentina’s National Registry of Persons. The registry is central to the Argentinian Interior Ministry and is responsible for issuing ID cards. It stores this information in a digital format, too, so other government agencies can use it. It’s similar to commercial background check services but far more expansive and localized to Argentina.
The media was first alerted to the incident earlier this month after the hacker published the data of 44 Argentinian celebrities online. A Twitter account using the handle “@AnibalLeaks” was responsible for posting the information. Among the data breach victims were prominent politicians, plus soccer stars Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
A day later, the attacker posted an advert on a hacking forum, offering the details of any Argentinian citizen for a fee.
With evidence of the leak out in the open, the Argentinian government finally admitted to the hack.
Argentinian authorities stated that the hacker did not “break” into the database.
On October 13, 2021, the Ministry of Interior said that its security team had discovered crucial information. Someone used a VPN account assigned to the Ministry of Health to search for information posted on the hacker’s Twitter account moments later.
This would indicate that the attacker somehow gained access to government employee credentials. It’s unclear if this was done through the breach of an employee’s personal account or with an inside accomplice. Good VPNs offer strong anonymity, which complicates the investigation.
So far, the hacker seems to have what they claim. The Record reached out to the hacker and obtained information on a willing citizen of their choice as a test. The hacker essentially holds a database that puts to shame most people search sites.
As it stands, the government will have an extremely hard time containing the data unless it physically apprehends the hacker.