Hacker steals government ID database for Argentina's entire population
A hacker has breached the Argentinian government's IT network and stolen ID card details for the country's entire population, data that is now being sold in private circles.
The hack, which took place last month, targeted RENAPER, which stands for Registro Nacional de las Personas, translated as National Registry of Persons.
The agency is a crucial cog inside the Argentinian Interior Ministry, where it is tasked with issuing national ID cards to all citizens, data that it also stores in digital format as a database accessible to other government agencies, acting as a backbone for most government queries for citizen's personal information.
Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero data leaked on Twitter
The first evidence that someone breached RENAPER surfaced earlier this month on Twitter when a newly registered account named @AnibalLeaks published ID card photos and personal details for 44 Argentinian celebrities.
This included details for the country's president Alberto Fernández, multiple journalists and political figures, and even data for soccer superstars Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
A day after the images and personal details were published on Twitter, the hacker also posted an ad on a well-known hacking forum, offering to look up the personal details of any Argentinian user.
Faced with a media fallback following the Twitter leaks, the Argentinian government confirmed a security breach three days later.
In an October 13 press release, the Ministry of Interior said its security team discovered that a VPN account assigned to the Ministry of Health was used to query the RENAPER database for 19 photos "in the exact moment in which they were published on the social network Twitter."
Officials added that "the [RENAPER] database did not suffer any data breach or leak," and authorities are now currently investigating eight government employees about having a possible role in the leak.
Hacker has a copy of the data, plans to sell and leak it
However, The Record contacted the individual who was renting access to the RENAPER database on hacking forums.
In a conversation earlier today, the hacker said they have a copy of the RENAPER data, contradicting the government's official statement.
The individual proved their statement by providing the personal details, including the highly sensitive Trámite number, of an Argentinian citizen of our choosing.
"Maybe in a few days I'm going to publish [the data of] 1 million or 2 millon people," the RENAPER hacker told The Record earlier today. They also said they plan to continue selling access to this data to all interested buyers.
When The Record shared a link to the government's press release in which officials blamed the intrusion on a possibly compromised VPN account, the hacker simply replied "careless employees yes," indirectly confirming the point of entry.
According to a sample provided by the hacker online, the information they have access to right now includes full names, home addresses, birth dates, gender info, ID card issuance and expiration dates, labor identification codes, Trámite numbers, citizen numbers, and government photo IDs.
Argentina currently has an estimated population of more than 45 million, although it's unclear how many entries are in the database. The hacker claimed to have it all.
Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.