Costa Rica launches investigation after reports hackers ‘rigged’ 2014 election

Campaign wasn't full of badness like the others, claims hacker


Costa Rica is to investigate whether hackers interfered with its 2014 elections.

The investigation comes days after jailed hacker Andres Sepulveda claimed he had used black propaganda and other tactics in order to influence many electoral contests across Latin America over a run of eight years for 2005 until 2013. Sepulveda told Bloomberg News that he hacked emails, phones and websites in order to gather intelligence in order to give his right wing clients an illicit advantage in nine Latin American countries.

Sepulveda ran a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, installed spyware in opposition offices, manipulated sentiment by fabricating false waves of enthusiasm and derision on social media, and launched spam and robo-calling campaigns designed to annoy potential supporters of his political clients' opposition.

The Costa Rican Supreme Court of Elections authorised an investigation into the country's presidential contest of 2014 following a complaint by the leftist Broad Front group prompted by Sepulveda’s revelations, teleSUR reports.

Sepulveda admitted running underhanded campaigns in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Nicaragua while maintaining he stuck to a "more normal" campaign in Costa Rica.

Leftists politicians in Costa Rica want investigators to look into "irregularities in the electoral process” as well as whether executives from the right-wing National Liberation Party hired Sepulveda (by his own account a high-tech, internet-savvy G Gordon Liddy1) in order to rig the election.

One of Sepulveda’s favoured tactics was the use of banks of sock puppet social media accounts to promote tweets and memes ridiculing left-wing candidates. Anti Broad Front memes were reportedly abundant during the 2014 elections. Some of the memes sought to portray the Broad Front as sympathetic to Columbia’s notorious FARC guerrillas. The social media posts alleged that the left-wing candidates had ties to Marxist guerrillas in Colombia and denied FRAC’s classification as terrorists. Supposed plans to nationalise industries were also highlighted.

The aggressive plan is blamed, by the leftists at least, for declining support for Jose Maria Villalta Florez-Estrada, the FA's candidate, who finished third, with 17 per cent of the vote.

Sepulveda was jailed for 10 years last year following his conviction on charges including use of malicious software, conspiracy to commit crime, violation of personal data and espionage. He is talking to the media after years of operating in the shadows in an apparent bid to portray himself as a reformed person. The offences related to spying on the Colombian government’s peace talks with Marxist rebels, as previously reported. ®

Bootnote

1Liddy was a leader of Nixon’s so-called “White House Plumbers”, convicted of burglary and illegal wiretapping for his role in the Watergate scandal.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Uncle Sam to clip wings of Pegasus-like spyware – sorry, 'intrusion software' – with proposed export controls

    Surveillance tech faces trade limits as America syncs policy with treaty obligations

    More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code.

    The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime.

    The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days.

    Continue reading
  • Global IT spending to hit $4.5 trillion in 2022, says Gartner

    The future's bright, and expensive

    Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021.

    The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending.

    The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag

    AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D

    Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade.

    The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand.

    As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021