from the making-citizens-pay-for-the-government's-sins dept


PREMO Member
The suspect obtained 7,000 documents from the Freedom of Information portal. Apparently around 250 of those contained unredacted personal information. Here's how the government portrayed the supposed hacking:

Government officials said someone got in by "exploiting a vulnerability in the system." The person wrote a script allowing them to alter the website's URL, which then granted access to the personal information.

Internal Services found more than 7,000 PDF documents had been downloaded by a "non-authorized user" in early March. They filed a complaint with police on Saturday.


But other sites have taken care to wall off publicly-available documents from others they're not prepared to make public by using a PublicPortal subfolder. Nova Scotia's site apparently did not, hence the teen's ability to access unredacted documents. This isn't evidence of fraudulent access or malicious hacking. This is evidence of government carelessness.

The question remains, was the access fraudulent?

Remember what I said about the other installations being called “PublicPortal”? And how 6750 of the 7000 records were public anyways, and how this system is literally designed for facilitating “access to information?” Looking at it further, there are no authentication mechanisms, no password protection, no access restrictions. It’s very clear that the software is intended to serve as a public repository of documents.

It’s also very clear that there at least 250 documents improperly stored there by the province. Documents that the province had a responsibility to protect, and failed.

This wasn't a criminal act. This was simply efficient harvesting of publicly-available documents. If some documents weren't supposed to be publicly-available, the blame lies with the government for failing to secure them. The fact that the government decided to get police involved gives this the ugly appearance of scapegoating. This is an embarrassed government body trying to turn its mistake into the malicious works of teen hacker.

It would be very surprising to see these charges stick. The URLs -- and the documents they held -- were publicly-accessible. But if they do stick -- and the Halifax PD has stated it may add more charges -- it will be due to the Nova Scotia government's unwillingness to take responsibility for its own carelessness.

19-Year-Old Canadian Facing Criminal Charges For Downloading Publicly-Accessible Documents
from the making-citizens-pay-for-the-government's-sins dept

so the Gov. screws up the website security ... teen downloads files, the Gov want to charge him ....
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