Sunday, May 09, 2010

Why Is the NETCU Assisting in the Investigation of the "Climategate" Data Breach?

"There have been indications that the hackers could have been based in Russia, and some experts believe they may have been hired by sceptics based in the US."---The Financial Times (4-15-10)

Shortly after the so-called "Climategate" e-mail scandal got underway, the British authorities announced that the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) was assisting Norfolk Constabulary with the investigation into the allegations of computer hacking at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

The global warming denialist bloggers like James Delingpole appeared nonplussed by this development, but the involvement of the NETCU is really not unexpected.

The U.K. Times (12-5-09) reports that the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) "works closely" with the U.K.'s Meteorological Service (MET), which is a branch of the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense.

The British consider global warming a threat to their national security. If hackers are breaking into the servers of CRU scientists who work with a department of the U.K. Ministry of Defense and are posting stolen e-mails on the server of an "internet security business" in Tomsk Russia, it should come as no surprise that the British authorities are going to want to know who is doing that.

Here is what the NETCU said about the CRU data breach on its site:

Date: 11 January 2010

Statement on UEA computer hacking investigation

The National Domestic Extremism Unit has been assisting Norfolk Constabulary with the investigation into the allegations of computer hacking at UEA, since it was launched in November 2009.

At present we have two police officers assisting Norfolk with their investigation, and we have also provided computer forensic expertise.

While this is not strictly a domestic extremism matter, as a national police unit, we had the expertise and resource to assist with this investigation, as well as good background knowledge of climate change issues, in relation to criminal investigations.

The Financial Times (4-15-10) further reports:

There have been indications that the hackers could have been based in Russia, and some experts believe they may have been hired by sceptics based in the US.

If it turns out to be the case that U.S.-based global warming skeptics paid Russian hackers to break into the servers of CRU researchers who work with the MET, a branch of the U.K. Ministry of Defense, certainly such skeptics might expect to become legitimate targets of investigations by the U.K. police and national security agencies.

Here is a recent statement from the Norfolk Constabulary about the progress of "investigations into criminal offences in relation to a data breach at the University of East Anglia."

For more information about the NETCU, see the various links at the National Coordinator Domestic Extremism (NCDE).

The "About NCDE" link explains:

NCDE is the national lead on domestic extremism, on behalf of ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM), for the UK.

NCDE is made up of three units who work collaboratively to coordinate the police response to domestic extremism:

Intelligence – NPOIU (National Public Order Intelligence Unit)

Investigation – NDET (National Domestic Extremism Team)

Prevention – NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit)

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