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'It was child's play': how a hacker broke into MEPs' secret email accounts

November 21, 2013 | By Jérôme Hourdeaux

A hacker using elementary computer equipment and what he described as “a few bits of knowledge that everyone is capable of finding on the internet” has succeeded in accessing confidential emails and personal files of Members of the European Parliament, their assistants and even the institution’s IT experts, Mediapart can reveal. The operation was, he said, mounted as a demonstration of the vulnerability of security at both the parliament in Strasbourg and also among many national administrations which use software, notably that of Microsoft, that experts have for years warned is exposed to espionage manipulations through fundamental - and what some suggest are possibly deliberate - flaws. While the scandal of mass surveillance employed by the US National Security Agency continues to unfold, Jérôme Hourdeaux reports on how major public institutions like the European Parliament continue to expose themselves to almost mundane intrusion of confidential data.

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Mediapart has learnt how a hacker has, in a regular manner over recent months and using what he described as “ridiculous” basic computer equipment, succeeded in breaking into the confidential email accounts of six Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), four of their assistants, two party group representatives,  and two members of the parliament’s IT and security services.