|Pacific Media Watch|
Hunt on for 'media hacker'
Title -- 5402 FIJI: Hunt on for 'media hacker'
Date -- 29 March 2008
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- The Fiji Times 29/03/08
Copyright - FT
Status -- Unabridged
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HUNT ON FOR 'MEDIA HACKER'
SUVA (FT Online/Pacific Media Watch): An information technology expert now living in Australia has been linked to a series of leaked emails that resulted in the deportation of Fiji Sun newspaper publisher Russell Hunter.
Ajendra Diwakar, a former systems manager with Datec and now a consultant at an Australian computer firm, has denied being a party to receiving and circulating confidential emails and information.
Howards partner Graham Leung, whose computer information was breached, said the matter had been raised with the Australian Federal Police.
However, AFP's media liaison officers said yesterday they had not received a complaint regarding this matter.
On the leaking of confidential client information from the law firm, including the high-profile case between Ballu Khan and the state, Leung said any unauthorised interference with anyone's electronic communications would be a concern.
"It could damage our interests in various ways. We have many clients," he said.
"Mr Khan is among them. So obviously anything that might hamper our preparation of his criminal defence would be a concern."
According to information and documents received by the Fiji Times, the owner of an email address called firstname.lastname@example.org sent an email to Nikhil Singh, a former TV journalist, containing the email exchanges between deported Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter and that newspaper's correspondent, Victor Lal, along with other exchanges regarding Howards.
In the email, fijimanfiji tells Singh: "You don't know me, however, I am trying to pass some info to Rajen and he is not responding."
"I have some juicy tips which may help the FLP (Fiji Labour Party) as a whole, especially things that Victor Lal is publishing. It is like early edition and you get info for tomorrow's paper today so you can act on it.
"Maybe I should send it to u or you can pass me Mahen's email address."
Singh responds by asking for identification from the sender and the sender gives him his telephone number 0420959895.
When the telephone number was searched under the Google search site, it entered an entry from an A. Diwakar of St Leonards in Sydney, who listed the same number with a message that he was looking for jogging partners from January 9.
That listing also includes ADiwakar@gmail.com which is known to his Fiji contacts.
The Fiji Times called the same phone number and Diwakar picked up the phone and answered our questions.
Singh confirmed to this newspaper that the leaked emails he circulated on Hunter's exchanges came from email@example.com.
Singh lives in Australia and works with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the trade union for Australian media workers.
Fiji Times Ltd publisher Evan Hannah said it was clear the illicit use of the emails had brought unwarranted pressure to bear on Fiji's media.
"The people who distributed these emails caused Russell Hunter's deportation," he said.
"By implication, these same people obtained the report from Howards that the interim government incorrectly said came from within The Fiji Times, which was the center of the discussion called by the interim Attorney-General."
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the interim A-G, could not be contacted to comment on this story.
Hannah said information technology specialists were like financial auditors and had a duty to treat any material they handled with discretion.
"Discretion has been abandoned in this case and it will be interesting to see who is finally proven to have done this."
Diwakar, who also specialises in Cisco networking that deals with networking computer systems, has denied that the email address firstname.lastname@example.org belongs to him.
However, he did say: "I know you are doing a story and linking me to the issue but do you know the meaning of hacking versus sabotage etc?".
"These are general tactics being used and information is available on the internet.
"First, you should differentiate the simple terms."
Howards lawyer Wylie Clarke said their main concern was that the "hacking" compromised their security, ability to conduct their business in an open and frank manner and severely undermined their confidence in the security of their communications.
"Of course, it has wider implications; if it is being done to us, what prevents it from being done to others?
"What does this say of the security of commercially and, or legally sensitive information?
"This is extremely damaging."
When asked about how they knew their computers were hacked, Clarke said they received evidence that their emails had been unlawfully accessed as a result of questions from some media services in relation to emails emanating from their office which they said they had copies.
"We have also been provided with copies of the emails that were addressed to a specific recipient and they have clearly been accessed without our knowledge and consent and that of the recipient," he said.
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