Po­lice un­sure on breach stats

The Southland Times - - Front Page - Thomas Manch

Po­lice are scram­bling to iden­tify how many peo­ple ac­cessed the per­sonal de­tails of thou­sands of gun own­ers in a data breach.

The de­tails of more than 37,000 firearm own­ers, in­clud­ing the guns they pos­sess and bank ac­count in­for­ma­tion, were able to be ac­cessed in the breach, ac­cord­ing to the Coun­cil of Li­censed Firearms Own­ers (Colfo).

The gun lobby group said it had re­ceived the data from a sup­porter and re­leased some images ob­tained in the breach, with per­sonal de­tails redacted. At a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day evening, Po­lice Deputy Com­mis­sioner Mike Cle­ment con­firmed the data had been avail­able to a select group of gun deal­ers since Novem­ber 27.

A gun dealer raised the alarm af­ter find­ing they could ac­cess the data.

Cle­ment said this was the only per­son con­firmed as ac­cess­ing the data, though Colfo has said mul­ti­ple peo­ple gained ac­cess.

The breach oc­curred af­ter an ex­ter­nal soft­ware de­vel­oper, Ger­man com­pany SAP, up­dated the sys­tem in a way which had not been au­tho­rised by po­lice, Cle­ment said.

He said po­lice were work­ing with SAP to de­ter­mine how many peo­ple ac­cessed the data. He said he could not give an ‘‘iron­clad’’ prom­ise the data had not spread fur­ther.

‘‘We will work pretty fast . . . to make sure that if there has been any use of the in­for­ma­tion that we’re aware of it and we can go to those peo­ple,’’ he said.

He said pros­e­cu­tion was a pos­si­bil­ity if the pri­vate in­for­ma­tion was dis­trib­uted, but the images pub­lished by Colfo did not meet this thresh­old.

Many firearm own­ers con­tacted Stuff ex­press­ing their dis­may at the data breach.

Cle­ment said they could still trust the gun buy­back sys­tem, and did not need to be con­cerned about their se­cu­rity as a re­sult.

‘‘We’re tak­ing this very se­ri­ously . . . We’ve got a sit­u­a­tion today that I’m not happy with, I can as­sure you. So in that sense, some of them might feel let down.

‘‘But the re­al­ity is, we’ve worked ex­tremely hard with the firearms com­mu­nity from the out­set with re­gards to the process.’’

Po­lice Min­is­ter Stu­art Nash, speak­ing at the weekly post-Cabi­net meet­ing press con­fer­ence, said the data was not pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble, and he had made clear to po­lice the source of the breach must be iden­ti­fied quickly.

The breach did not demon­strate the buy­back scheme had failed or needed to be reeval­u­ated, he said.

Firearm own­ers who have had semi-au­to­matic firearms and other guns banned fol­low­ing the March 15 ter­ror at­tack have been asked to no­tify po­lice of their weapons through an on­line form.

Colfo, in a state­ment, said sev­eral of the group’s sup­port­ers had taken screen­shots and down­loaded in­for­ma­tion of 37,125 li­censed own­ers and the de­tails of 280,000 pro­hib­ited firearms and parts.

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