Johannesburg - Nearly 16 000 whistle-blowers have had their personal details published online after a cyberattack on the SAPS website.
Hundreds of police officers’ names, ranks and contact details were also uploaded by the hacker, who said the attack was in retaliation for the Marikana shootings.
The hacker appeared to have performed a data dump last Friday when complainants’ details were downloaded from the SAPS website’s e-mail server and uploaded on to another site.
Many of the 15 767 e-mails were detailed with incidents of crimes such as rape, murder and robbery, as well as the names and contact details of the whistle-blowers.
The hacker took to social media to claim the online attack.
“South African Police saps.gov.za e-mails Leaked… #OpMarikanaMiners We Did Not Forget #Anonymous,” tweeted @DomainerAnon.
His profile picture is a man wearing a mask, similar to that used by the anarchist character “V” in the film V for Vendetta. He says he is from “OZ (Australia) but currently on walkabouts”.
The mask is based on the face of Guy Fawkes, the best-known member of the gang of men who tried to blow up the House of Lords in London in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Above the list of the officers’ details, a message reads: “The reason for this action is to serve as a reminder to the government regarding the murders of 34 protesting miners outside the Marikana platinum mine by police. To date no officers have been brought to justice… This situation will NOT be tolerated.”
By 8am on Wednesday, the data had been downloaded 330 times.
“I’m very worried about this,” one of the whistle-blowers told The Star, on condition of anonymity.
He had sent an e-mail to the police saying that the police were not properly investigating the rape of a 14-year-old girl in KZN.
He said he was still in the dark about the investigation.
National police spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati said this morning that there would be a media briefing at 1pm today.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” said Dr Johan Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.
He said it was a “huge breach of police security systems” and could have serious ramifications for whistle-blowers if the information fell into the hands of criminals.
Craig Rosewarne, a cyber security expert and director of Wolfpack Information Risk, described a hacker who had a political, religious or social agenda as a “hacktivist”.
“We are seeing about 60 percent of the more popular breaches (globally) being the work of a hacktivist as opposed to hackers doing it for financial gain,” he said.
Rosewarne said the information from the SAPS e-mails had been posted on a “bulletproof site that is typically unavailable to be taken down”.
Access to low-cost hacking software and other cybercrime tools has made the potential of hacks into government sites more likely.
“It’s actually amazing that we’re not seeing more of this in South Africa,” Rosewarne said.