New Zealand Opposition Behind Budget Info Hack?
Two thousand unauthorized access attempts in 48-hours, that is how New Zealand’s Treasury Secretary in coordination with the National Cyber Security Centre described the budget information record hacking incident that happened this week. New Zealand’s new public spending law dubbed “well-being budget” is expected to be publicly disclosed in full on Thursday, May 30, 2019. But prior to that, the National party which is serving as the opposition partly released snippets of the budget prior to the official release date.
“Following this morning’s media reports of a potential leak of Budget information, the Treasury has gathered sufficient evidence to indicate that its systems have been deliberately and systematically hacked. The Treasury takes the security of all the information it holds extremely seriously. It has taken immediate steps today to increase the security of all budget-related information and will be undertaking a full review of information security processes. There is no evidence that any personal information held by the Treasury has been subject to this hacking,” explained Gabriel Makhlouf, Treasury Secretary.
National Party’s leader, Simon Bridges denied insinuations that the opposition has something to do with the hacking incident, he also accused the administration party of performing an alleged witch-hunt to discredit them. “There has been no hacking under any definition of that word … there has been nothing illegal or even approaching that. We have acted legally, appropriately, without any hacking or anything approaching that by the National Party. Or indeed what Grant Robertson is saying, that’s how we’ve got it, he is wrong. They [the government] are not in control of what they are doing, so they are lashing out and they are having a witch-hunt.” emphasized Bridges.
The government of New Zealand, through its Treasury Department, is still confirming the continuation of the budget disclosure on the same original date as planned prior to the massive hacking incident. The National Party leadership squarely place the blame to the incompetence of the Treasury officials, more particularly of Makhlouf for mishandling government data and him calling the assistance of police as if cybercrime is a typical street crime. The opposition leader refused to explain how did they were able to secure a copy of the well-being budget.
“There’s this potential talk around cybersecurity and so on — I was a minister in charge of cybersecurity for Bill English and what I know is departments like the Treasury, with big organizations, there are attempts at hacking and so on, if not every day, very commonly. I don’t know what the situation with that is, but they wouldn’t have called in the police if that was what they were worried about,” concluded Bridges.
New Zealand’s well-being budget aims to change the fiscal priorities of the government, with stronger focus with funding actions against domestic abuse, better mental health care system and protection against child labor practices due to poverty. With social services taking a lion share of the budget, the government of New Zealand is distancing itself from more economic growth compared to previous years. The administration believes that domestic protection should receive more focus this year.