A hacker broke into the server of the Zwijndrecht police zone and leaked thousands of license plates, fines and even police reports, VTM Nieuws and Het Laatste Nieuws reported on Thursday this evening.
This is one of the largest government leaks in Belgium, the news media said.
VTM Nieuws and Het Laatste Nieuws reported that the hacker was able to see all data from 2006 to September 2022. Trying to extort money from the police, the hacker downloaded a copy of the data and posted a link on the Internet.
Daniël Verlaan, a tech journalist at the Dutch RTL News, noticed the link and passed it on to the editors of VTM News and Het Laatste Nieuws, who found thousands of police files, including sensitive cases, such as photos of an abused boy who filed a complaint against his father.
Hacker unearths data requested by police from telecoms companies
In addition, the editors discovered data requested by the police zone from telecom companies such as Telenet and license plates registered by ANPR cameras.
“The data breach greatly affects the privacy of everyone who came into contact with the local police zone; and the cause is simple: a poorly secured police network,” Het Laatste Nieuws wrote on its website.
“Cybercrime is hot right now: it appears that, sometimes, human errors in an organisation allow people to access a system. In the meantime, we have de-connected everything,” said Chief of Police Marc Snels.
“It is of course a very regrettable matter. We find this particularly annoying," he added. "And we are concerned with keeping the consequences at a minimum. We are going to contact and notify the possibly aggrieved people as much as possible.”