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Turkey’s e-government website, other gov’t-related sites hacked, journalist claims

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A Turkish journalist has claimed that a hacker group infiltrated Turkey’s e-government website and other government-related sites two months ago and has access to the identity and other personal information of Turkish citizens, including those of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.

Journalist ibrahim Haskoloğlu on Tuesday revealed in a series of tweets that a hacker group made contact with him two months ago, saying they had stolen data from the e-government website and other government-related sites, including those on senior government officials, and had been leaking them.

“They shared the data of some government officials with me,” Haskoloğlu said, posting photos of Erdoğan and Fidan’s identity cards with critical information on them censored in the photos.

The journalist also posted photos of his own identity card, explaining that the hacker group also sent him photos of his ID and the IDs of some of his acquaintances after he had asked them to do it in order to verify the accuracy of the data they had obtained.

Haskoloğlu added that the hacker group not only had access to his ID but also to his university diploma, addresses, phone numbers and information related to his social security and monthly salary.

According to Haskoloğlu, the hacker group also infiltrated the e-Pulse website, an online personal health record system of the Turkish Health Ministry, and is able to tamper with the data on the system, which includes changing Turkish citizens’ COVID-19 test results from negative to positive and vice versa.

The group is also able to access the data of other institutions such as universities and banks, Haskoloğlu said, adding that they could send mass messages to people without a phone number, identifying themselves as “the Gendarmerie, Instagram or Twitter.”

“I conveyed this [information] to all the necessary authorities, important figures from the opposition and the government, so that no one would be victimized [by the hackers]. I waited for it to be fixed because [I thought] there would be those who wanted to buy this data. However, this data has already started to be shared on some websites,” Haskoloğlu said.

He added that when he did research on the issue he found that private information on Turkish citizens isn’t so valuable for hackers because it’s been leaked so many times and isn’t hard to obtain.

“I saw this quote in English on one of the websites that sell these data [on Turks]: ‘Everything has value on earth, except for Turks’ data’,” Haskoloğlu said.

Following his revelations, the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality, operating under the Interior Ministry, refuted the claims in a written statement released on Wednesday.

Underlining that no signs of weakness for data leak were found as a result of the tests carried out every year on the security of Turkey’s online databases, the directorate said they would file a criminal complaint against “those who cause panic among citizens by spreading baseless claims with the intent of undermining trust in the state institutions.”

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