The Government’s parliamentary website, www.ttparliament.org, was taken offline yesterday after a computer software hacker apparently breached the security codes of the site and left a mischievous message announcing the security break.
Under the name “CoD3X”, the hacker reassured the parliamentary site administrator that all the files and the system’s database remained intact.
CoD3X also announced that he or she was actually doing a good deed by demonstrating how easy it was to slip into the system and then advised the system administrator to “patch your website, keep it updated”, inferring that the security software was outdated and therefore vulnerable.
“This is a warning, what other hackers can do to your website. Keep it in mind…” the glowing green message read.
Minister of Government Business and Acting Attorney General Dr Roodal Moonilal, though, was not concerned with the breach and in fact denied that the Parliament site was taken offline to deal with that specific issue.
“I don’t think that has anything to do with why it is down. I believe it is just down for repairs,” he said in a brief telephone interview yesterday.
Last month, the Ministry of Finance dealt with a similar problem and that site was taken down for upgrades soon after someone breached it’s security protocols. In that instance however, information on roughly 50 accounts were leaked, including usernames, e-mails and encrypted passwords.
Moonilal said even if the site was hacked, he did not think this case was related to the similar security breach at the Finance Ministry.
“But there is no private information on this site, no secret information, so what could a hacker possibly want with this site?” he asked.
“It is not a high-security website,” he said.
Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds did not share Moonilal’s confidence. He called on more stringent measures to be put in place to stop what is becoming a regular occurrence.
“I would not dismiss this. We need to be careful,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
“Indeed I am concerned and I think as a Parliamentarian, we all must be,” he said.
He said the Data Protection Bill sought to deal with precisely such situations.
“I am very concerned. This now falls not to individual Parliamentarians, but to the secretary of Parliament. They must do what is technically necessary because this comes down to a technical solution,” he said.
Hinds said while the Parliament was an “open institution”, there were some aspects that were not open to the public.
“It is an international problem. We don’t know why people are doing it, but we need to be very careful,” he said