The National Party website appears not to have been hacked, as first thought, but tampered with by someone who had a viable user name and password, says the head of the police e-crimes unit, Martin Kleintjes.
Reports in a Wellington newspaper suggested the site had been hacked and defaced over the weekend with messages attacking National party leader Don Brash's race relations stance.
However Kleintjes says the site was not hacked in a technical sense, although that will matter little in the eyes of the law.
"We understand access wasn't achieved by hacking but by someone having a user name and password."
Kleintjes says the crime falls squarely under the new Crimes Amendment Act provisions against hacking.
"It comes under section 252 of the Crimes Act which is accessing a computer without authorisation." Kleintjes says a separate part of the Act, section 250, could also be invoked.
"Damaging or interfering with a computer system."
Kleintjes says how the intruder came to have a legitimate user name and password is still to be determined.
"We're securing evidence at the moment and obtaining logs and then we'll start at the bottom and work our way up."
Kleintjes says the site isn't hosted on a parliamentary computer as it's a political party site.
"I believe it's hosted in Auckland."
A National Party spokesman did not immediately return Computerworld Online calls. Currently the National Party website (http://www.national.org.nz) points to Don Brash's official home page and makes no mention of the defacement.