Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dirty Politics

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  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Mike Kilpatrick,

    only new aspect

    But it is a very interesting and scandalous aspect that a paid staffer of the PM illicitly accessed the server and then connived to break the story as a scandal rather than quietly advising the site administrators, which is what any decent person would have done. Especially since a) Slater claimed he did it all on his own and b) the Nats and the PM in particular have always denied feeding things to Slater.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • stephen clover, in reply to Mike Kilpatrick,

    p29

    [Aaron] Bhatnagar had been sniffing around the Labour Party’s websites and stumbled across an insecure location containing gigabytes of sensitive party information […] passed the find on to his friend [Slater]

    Likely he found a unprotected sub-directory with the CRM database (a backup?) in it. Bob’s your uncle. Though with the regularity that those two (and others) enthuse about “smashing Labour” and so on, its hard to imagine his intent was benign.

    Of course subsequently Slater, Ede, Simon Lusk and whoever it was at national.govt.nz who exploited the security flaw and downloaded the data can not have not known exactly what they were doing.

    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 355 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to William Leander,

    All that is required is that the access was done ‘knowing that he or she is not authorised’.

    That is what is keeping the lights on in the Beehive tonight. Criminal charges are justified.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2894 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    It seems the “hacking” term is pretty much unjustified, and ultimately I think will provide great leverage for the push back. I also hope that Hager has largely stuck to things that are verifiable with the content he has, because any divergence into the land of speculation and conspiracy theory will also provide great points for spin.

    Ultimately in a thing like this I think that hyperbole (which the term ‘hacking’ seems to be) is self-defeating. It’s easily rebutted and with it goes the larger issues.

    Keith Ng and Ira Bailey were described as hacking into MSD's systems by Slater. They don't get it both ways, though neither do we.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Kilpatrick, in reply to Hebe,

    But they were surely justified in 2011 then? If so, why was that not done then?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    FWIW on the way that "the hackers" got into Whale's stuff... Hard to say. From what I remember of the DDoS - they did draft in a few experts to help - always possible that one of them wasn't necessarily politically aligned and held on to some access details for later. Or alternatively as others suggest that the DDoS itself was a cover for the attack (although that's of limited use as the very nature of the DoS attack renders the target difficult to penetrate as the thing is barely functional).

    Once in I suspect there were a number of vectors.

    There's always the chance that Slater made it a habit to screenshot his FB conversations (he'd certainly posted screenshots from there in the past).

    Also the chance that he reused passwords, or even that passwords were stored in cleartext on the website - for example some "publish by email" plugins require that you provide IMAP/POP3 login credentials - they would be stored in cleartext in database or even standard configuration files.

    And there's the possibility of compromised FB API tokens - if he was using one an auto-post application on his blog (he seems to be) then it's possible that there were FB tokens that could have been used in other apps to get data from the connected account.

    In general, once someone gets in somewhere, it is a springboard to other attacks - that's generally the pattern with all successful and well known hacks.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Mike Kilpatrick,

    Is this a not-very-clever way of saying rooting around the web server? Or is there actual allegations that individual computers were hacked into?

    Anyone up to that point in the book yet?

    I'm going to assume at this stage that it's basically the web-server exploring that Slater himself documented in his videos from June 2011

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Kilpatrick, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Absolutely Stephen. I had just seen a few mentions of the hacking aspect from around the world, including a UK MP, and I'd be much more comfortable if the focus is on the new aspect not the old 'hacking' allegation.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • cindy baxter,

    Not forgetting Seven Sharp's puffery on Slater
    http://tvnz.co.nz/seven-sharp/whaleoil-beef-hooked-video-6035344

    Hosking finishing with "he quotes my editorials all the time".

    i'll bet he does.

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Wow. I don’t know why. I’ve always assumed he’s a hack through and through, given his very close and well known ties to National.

    (For the avoidance of doubt, I am a Labour LEC chair and running an electorate campaign).

    I'm totally willing to accept that people have honestly held political views that differ from my own. Far more so that Slater, Farrar has been willing to criticise National on matters where he has a clear difference of opinion. That's never seemed to be the case with Slater.

    Beyond that I've know Farrar online for way too long, met him on a few occasions and even eaten dinner with him in the IRC/Usenet days long before Kiwiblog. He just seemed pretty straight up.

    Also had him as a guest on the Discourse Podcast a couple of times and again, while having different political views to me he's always seemed pretty reasonable. I guess I just kind of want to like him somehow :)

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    But it is a very interesting and scandalous aspect that a paid staffer of the PM illicitly accessed the server and then connived to break the story as a scandal rather than quietly advising the site administrators, which is what any decent person would have done

    Well, what anyone who respected the values and institutions of democratic governace would do.

    My take is I think everyone sorta knew this already. The PR machine run by Ede was just to smooth, to faultless, to perfect for to long. These revelations resonate because with them a whole lot of pieces of a puzzle fall into place.

    They make sense at a gut level to anyone who has observed the Key government and the ruthless glass and steel corporate culture he has brought to the Beehive.

    The arrogant high handedness of Collins and Brownlee, the frank cronyism, the deals done without regard to due process are obvious symptoms. If you can’t be bothered with all the chekcs and balances of this democracy bullshit then it is but short hops from breaching beneficiaries privacy for political gain (Paula Bennett), to accessing Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition databases for party partisan ends, to using information gathered by state security agencies to trash your opponents.

    It is the logical behaviour of a corporate culture of a pathological pursuit of profit and power elevated to a governing principle in the very highest office of our democracy.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2204 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Mike Kilpatrick,

    But they were surely justified in 2011 then? If so, why was that not done then?

    Because, I'm guessing, at the time it seemed like a relatively minor story, was in the run up to the election and ultimately Slater was the only target for prosecution if Labour had laid a complaint. One thing that's clear is that Slater loves a fight - he plays the political martyr card very well.

    Now with the implication of the Prime Minister's office - well the motivation for dragging the matter before the courts could be quite different for Labour.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Muldoonism + 30 years of neoliberalism = #TeamKey!

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Kilpatrick, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Thank you for that. I was struggling to find a reason why now rather than 2011...

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Mike Kilpatrick,

    I’d be much more comfortable if the focus is on the new aspect not the old ‘hacking’ allegation.

    Yeah, that's the problem with the story really. Media love a "hacking" story it's a lot easier to fit in a 4-second-tease than "Prime Minister's staff advised and coordinated with blogger to identify and release poorly secured files"

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Far more so that Slater, Farrar has been willing to criticise National on matters where he has a clear difference of opinion. That’s never seemed to be the case with Slater.

    Oh come on. Slater has never hid the fact that he belongs to a particular National faction, and hasn't held back from attacking those within the Government who might obstruct the ambitions of his enablers. While he's rarely criticised Key, he's never missed an opportunity to dump on Brownlee, presumably because it suits Collins's purposes.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I guess I just kind of want to like him somehow

    You are not alone. Many people find him very likeable. He is what Johnson would have called a very clubbable man. And playing the role of the honest partisan is part of his schtick.

    [And again, it's part of mine too.]

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Where does this leave the MSM? They’ve pretty much given up even pretending they don’t use Farrar and Slater as primary sources for breaking stories. Hager’s book tells us they’ve pretty much become little more than enablers of orchestrated government propaganda campaigns.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2204 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I don't think Farrar has done anything inappropriate as such. He's never pretended to be anything but a senior member of the National Party deep state, which is a perfectly legitimate thing to be.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • SHG, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    If someone pushes on a door, finds it’s unlocked, and walks through it to take whatever they can find inside, it seems a bit odd to say “well, of course if they leave it open..."

    Oh yay, theft analogies.

    How about if the person makes a duplicate of whatever he finds and leaves the original behind?

    What if the house has a talking door, and all you need to do knock on it say "give me a complete inventory of the contents of this house"? And then say "oh that thing in the living room, make a copy and send it to me"?

    How about if an automated house-contents inventorying service had done that for you and all you needed to do was say "show me your cached version of the house inventory and then send me a copy of that thing in the living room"?

    Back in June 2011 this link to a house-contents inventorying service would spit out Labour-internal information that would make you shit bricks. Names, usernames, passwords, internal SQL configuration files, you name it. I know, I tried it.

    http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&q=site%3Ahealthyhomeshealthykiwis.org.nz

    That's all it took. A Google search.

    Did Google "hack the Labour server"? Did I?

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Gaming the system....

    Bingo

    The Housie of Parliament....

    Carter the Caller, dips into his bag
    examines the marble then barks out:
    '85 - Staying Alive!",
    dips again "legs 11, running heaven"
    - he warms to his task -
    "21 Key to the door",
    "two and eight in a state, 28",
    "62, tickety-boo",
    the numbers come rapid fire now,
    a film of sweat gathers on the newer members' brows,
    "two fat ladies, 88", "71 bang a drum"
    - the old hands juggle several cards
    and hand-roll cigarettes!
    "Line!" shouts the party whip....
    prompting many throwaway ones!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7787 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    There’s always the chance that Slater made it a habit to screenshot his FB conversations (he’d certainly posted screenshots from there in the past).

    Good point. Wouldn't be the first time someone's been caught out with a hidden images directory.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Hebe,

    That is what is keeping the lights on in the Beehive tonight

    Nah! That's just the 'cleaners' ...

    NIce to see history repeat and Wellington
    now has a 'Whaling station' again ...
    - let the flensing begin!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7787 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to SHG,

    Oh yay, theft analogies.

    How about if the person makes a duplicate of whatever he finds and leaves the original behind?

    Blah blah blah... The point is that the law is worded in such a way that makes it reasonably arguable that accessing content on a computer that's clearly not intended to be access by you could be considered unauthorised access, or 'hacking' in broad terms.

    Even without taking everything, or just taking copies (somehow) the act of entering a property even without 'breaking in' would still be burglary... so the taking is not really the issue.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    let the flensing begin!

    Come all you tonguers?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

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