Hacker collective “Anonymous” launched a series of cyberattacks against websites belonging to Mexico’s security agencies and claim to have stolen files from the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA).
Communicating via their Twitter account, Anonymous announced they had managed to take offline the websites of SEDENA, as well as the Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR), and the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN). On the SEDENA site, the group reportedly managed to post a Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) manifesto that remained for two hours, according to the AFP.
In another tweet, the collective claimed to have stolen the entire content of SEDENA’s server and that they would soon release the information. The group added that “the surprises will continue.”
SEDENA responded with a short statement saying their website was down but internal information and communication systems were working normally, reported Informador. The statement made no mention of Anonymous or of whether any files had been taken.
SEMAR also responded to the hack, acknowledging they had been the victims of a Denial-of-Service attack (DoS). However, they added, internal systems were functioning normally and there was “no damage to naval operations or national security.”
InSight Crime Analysis
Anonymous collectives elsewhere in Latin America, such as Colombia, have launched cyber attacks on government websites. In Mexico, alleged members of the group entered into a dispute with the Zetas drug cartel in 2011, threatening to expose collaborators of the gang. The group later backed down from the threat over security fears.
Although this is not the first time Anonymous activists have attacked government targets in Mexico, previously bringing down a mining ministry-affiliated website, the decision to take on government security institutions could represent a change of focus for the group. However, as Anonymous is an amorphous collective with no official leadership or hierarchy, it could also be a decision taken by one faction acting in isolation.
Any targeting of security agencies will concern the Mexican government and if it is true that Anonymous have stolen information from Sedena, then this could pose a threat both to national security and to individuals working in the organization.
The attack also highlights how 2012’s continent wide crackdown on alleged Anonymous activists had little affect on the groups operational capability.