Hacker puts contents from Zwijndrecht Police’s server online

A hacker has broken into the server of the local police service in Zwijndrecht (Antwerp Province). The commercial television channel VTM and the daily ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ report that the hacker has put data on thousands of car number plates, speeding fines and even crime report files online for all to see. The Antwerp Judicial Authorities have confirmed this in a statement given to VRT News and say that an investigation is under way. This is reportedly one of the biggest data leaks at a public service anywhere in Belgium. 

The hacking of the Zwijndrecht police computer took place in September. After having stolen the information from the computer the hacker shared it on the internet.

A Dutch technology journalist Daniël Verlaan that works for the news service of the Dutch commercial broadcaster RTL Nieuws was the first journalist to find the leaked data online. He contacted his colleague at the Flemish commercial broadcaster VTM and the daily ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’. VTM and ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ say that the hacker was able to gain access to all the data kept by the Zwijndrecht Local Police service from 2006 until September 2022.

Human error

The Chief Commissioner of the Zwijndrecht Local Police Service Marc Snels told VRT News that “Just to be clear, this information that was taken from our administrative network database. It is not the case that all our data has been leaked. The network mainly contains personal information about our staff such as staff lists, and photographs taken at staff parties”.

"But it is indeed also the case that some sensitive information was on that network, although we always try to only put it onto the professional network”.

Mr Snels went on to say that “This is a case of human error, and this is how crime reports and fine notices, but also photographs of child abuse have been leaked. This is of cause particular regrettable.

The Chief Commissioner has confirmed that the hackers demanded ransom money, but that this has not been paid.

Mr Snels says that he has no idea how the hackers were able to break into his police service’s servers. He added that as soon as it was known that the computer system had been hacked it was closed down and the relevant authorities were informed. Zwijndrecht Police are now contacting all those whose data has been leaked. 

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