Solid Energy site hacked on eve of election

Company's communications manager says hack is a media stunt

Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Kristin Gilles denies the organisation is responsible for interfering with access to the Solid Energy New Zealand website today. “We don’t know who did it,” says Gillies, “but it’s obviously an election-eve stunt.”

Attempts to access the site this morning were redirected to a fake site, citing the Coal Action Network.

The fake site’s home-page, under Solid Energy’s name and logo, displayed a video expressing opposition to lignite mining in Southland. This has become an election issue, with the Labour Party declaring its opposition to the plan.

Vicki Blyth general manager of communications at Solid Energy, uses almost identical wording to Gillies to condemn the attack. The initial impression of the ICT specialists who maintain the site is that requests to access the site have been redirected to a site set up to fake Solid Energy’s site, rather than the Solid Energy site itself being interfered with, she says.

“This is obviously a media stunt on the eve of the election and it’s very annoying, but we expect to resolve it shortly,” she said on the morning of the attack. By 3:30 in the afternoon, the site’s home page was displaying an “undergoing maintenance” message and sub-pages had various diagnostic messages proclaiming them inaccessible.

Later in the day, Blyth confirmed Solid Energy has reported the matter to the police “because we believe it’s a criminal offence, under the Crimes Act”. She believes the complaint cites Section 249 and 250 of the Act – dishonest use of a computer system and damaging or interfering with a computer system.

Blyth denies, however, that the culprit has been identified. Another media source quotes her as attributing the attack to a definite organisation, but she denies having said that. Attempts to contact the organisation in question have not been successful.

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