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New Zealand budget: ‘Hacking’ was actually website blunder

New Zealand budget: ‘Hacking’ was actually website blunder

New Zealand’s Treasury has admitted that details of its budget – leaked earlier this week – were not stolen by hackers but accidentally made available through its website.

The government called in police after parts of its budget was released two days early by the opposition National Party.

Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said it had been “deliberately hacked”.

But on Thursday he admitted police had found no evidence of illegal activity.

“Basis on Present information, an unknown person or persons appear to have exploited a feature in the website search tool, but, this does not appear to be unlawful,” Mr. Makhlouf said in a statement.

He said the Treasury had prepared a “clone” website ahead of the budget’s release on Thursday.

While the cloned site was never online, part of the information was accidentally indexed on the live website. As a result, typing in key search-terms revealed the embargoed budget details.

Mr. Makhlouf maintained that there had been “deliberate, systematic and persistent searching of a website that was clearly not intended to be public,” but no further police action is planned.

How did the opposition react?

A day earlier, National Party leader Simon Bridges strongly denied his party had done anything illegal and accused Jacinda Ardern’s government of conducting a “witch-hunt”.

“There are no hacking under any definition of that word,” he said. “They are not in control of what they are doing, so they are lashing out.”

 

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