Hackers are claiming to have leaked massive amounts of data from the Turkish citizenship database. Including the data of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself. It is thought that the leak may include every Turkish citizen’s:
- First and last name,
- Mother’s and father’s first name,
- National Identification number (TC Kimlik No),
- City of birth and date of birth,
- ID registration city, and full address.
With such a large quantity of data published, if confirmed, the data breach could put Turkish citizens at an elevated risk of fraud and identity theft.
The stolen database is said to include the sensitive records of the entire nation’s 49,611,709 citizens and appears to have been leaked for political reasons. Although the penetration remains unconfirmed, on the Finish IP address where the 6.6 GB of data was dumped, the hackers also left the following message,
‘Who would have imagined that backwards ideologies, cronyism and rising religious extremism in Turkey would lead to a crumbling and vulnerable technical infrastructure?’
That message attributes the motivation for the cyber attack to an already well publicised ‘cyberwar’ between Anonymous and the government of Turkey. That ongoing digital battle was made public in December of last year when Anonymous declared cyber war on Erdogan’s government for its – alleged – connections to ISIS. In particular, claims that Erdogan may have made under-the-table dealings with ISIS to purchase oil; helping to fund the terrorist organisation in the process.
It is no secret that Erdogan’s government has been receiving massive amounts of criticism. In February, a hacktivist called ROR(RG) who is an active member of Anonymous, leaked data taken from Turkish National Police (EMG) servers. That attack was carried out due to information coming out of Turkey linking the police force to the death of US reporter Serena Shim.
In fact, there has been a growing surge of belief amongst human rights activists that the Turkish government and police have become deeply corrupt. In particular, Turkey’s government is accused of allowing police to engage in excessive, unlawful force against citizens during anti-ISIS protests. It is alleged that around 458 civilians were slaughtered during those riots by Erdogan’s extremist forces.
What is particularly disturbing about the recent list of atrocities, is that Western governments appear to be doing so little to point the finger at Erdogan. Instead, Erdogan’s government is continuing to enjoy good diplomatic relations with Europe and the US. That positive rapport appears to be directly related to a recent deal that Europe has struck with Turkey. That deal comprises of a Turkish promise to aid in relocating migrants back to war-torn Syria. In return for prioritised EU management of Turkey’s possible entry into the European Union.
That agreement got underway a fortnight ago and specifically involves the removal of migrants that arrive in Greece via the Aegean sea. A migration route that it is believed to bring in around 1500 migrants by boat each day (down from 2000 in February).
Dishearteningly, political cooperation between the West and Turkey is continuing despite stacks of evidence against Erdogan’s government. This includes an all-out war against freedom of speech in Turkey that has seen the biggest daily national newspapers Zaman and Cihan seized by the government in what media critic Yavuz Baydar is calling ‘the end of journalism in Turkey’.
Demonstrative of just how bad things have gotten in Turkey, it is believed that since 2013 the nation has incarcerated 40 of its journalists. Add to that the murder (by hanging) of ex-BBC reporter Jackie Sutton in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport last October; and you start to get a sense of Turkey’s desperately worrying current political climate.
Turkish security personnel clash with US protesters
Just six days ago, US protesters clashed with Turkish security personnel in Washington DC. Those protesters were present at the Brookings Institute during Erdogan’s speech to express their opposition to Turkey’s clampdown on freedom of expression. Incredibly, six Turkish security personnel were seen wrestling a protest banner from a US protester. Even clashing with members of the D.C. police department, to rid the area of activists and journalists before the arrival of President Erdogan. Erdogan’s security, apparently, holding more weight at the event in the US capital than local law enforcement itself.
While the West may be considered to be turning a blind eye to Erdogan’s extreme policies, Russia has been acting somewhat like a voice of reason. In particular by enforcing economic sanctions against Turkey (in retaliation for the downing of one of its warplanes on the Turkey-Syria border last year). It is believed that those stringent economic sanctions will cost Turkey more than $8.3 billion worth of trade in 2016 – no small sum.
With Turkey at the centre of such a large amount of political controversy, it is no wonder that Anonymous (known for its humanitarian-inspired political agendas) is engaging in ‘cyber war’ against the nation. This latest penetration of Turkey’s General Directorate of Security (EGM) demonstrates just how much damage the hacktivist collective can do when it decides to.
A final point of interest in this latest act of aggression against Erdogan’s government is Anonymous’ continued opposition to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. A warning that was issued with the data dump says the following:
Although the details of the data-dump have not yet been entirely confirmed, if found to be true this could be one of the biggest hacks ever witnessed. Comparable only to (but considerably larger than) the penetration of the US Office of Personnel Management. Jacob Applebaum, a US cyber security expert, based in Berlin, has iterated the same point on his Twitter account, commenting that,
‘If this is really what it claims, I think it is one of the largest security/PII breaches since the #OPM hack.’
For now, however, the exact contents (and sensitivity) of the violation remain unconfirmed. With Softpedia claiming that the contents may well be made up of previously available data (from 2008),
‘All information is usually what you’ll find on a standard Turkey ID card, which makes the leak less dangerous, but not completely safe. The source of the data is currently unknown, but could be very well from a public administration agency that deals with user information.’