Phone numbers of three NZ Cabinet ministers and party leader in Facebook hack attack

Three Government ministers and one political party leader are among Kiwis whose personal details were part of a Facebook hack attack.

Phone numbers of Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash, Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Priyanca Rhadakrishnan, and Act leader David Seymour are among at least 67,000 New Zealand numbers that were hacked in a larger theft of 533 million Facebook users.

They are not necessarily the phone numbers on which the ministers conduct official business. Many ministers have more than one phone.

The large-scale hack of Facebook happened in 2019 but last weekend the contact details were dumped on hacker forums.

It is the sort of information that used to be kept in public phone books or electoral rolls – names, phone numbers, home town and occupation.

New Zealand Herald data journalist Keith Ng extracted the New Zealand numbers he could find in the database and created a tool that tests whether someone’s number was among those compromised.

Herald Press Gallery journalists put the numbers of New Zealand’s ministers and political party leaders into the tool and four came up compromised.

All personal information has been removed from the database that contains the information for the tool.

New Zealand CyberCX researcher Adam Boileau told the Herald that some people may need to consider getting new numbers, but that it was important to keep it in perspective.

“It’s phone numbers. We used to put them in phone books and give them to every house. If it was 500 million passwords, then maybe it would be worth some froth.”

The MPs have been asked for comment. Rhadakrishnan said she was aware her number was part of the attack but had no comment on the matter.

David Seymour said it was “a timely reminder that computers just do what the smartest person programmes them to do.”

“There is no ultimate safety from this kind of thing. It might explain why bloody kids call me at 12.30 am on Friday night.”

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