Tuesday, July 24, 2012

British Close "Climategate" Hacking Investigation, but U.S. Justice Department Investigation Hopefully Continues


"I hope that the separate investigation underway by the Justice Department in the US will continue undaunted, especially since the British police concluded that the data breach was the result of a 'sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack'."---Dr. Michael Mann in BBC News (7-18-12)


"[T]he theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee - did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change."---University of East Anglia (7-18-12) 


The U.K. Guardian (7-18-12) reports that the Norfolk Constabulary are closing their investigation into the hacking of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) because of a three-year statute of limitations. The British investigation was code-named "Operation Cabin." In a second Guardian story (7-20-12), Detective Chief Superintendent Julian Gregory regrets that the culprits were not caught. Gregory observes:


[T]he data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack" and that there was no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with UEA was involved in the crime.


The BBC (7-18-12) reports that Dr. Michael Mann confirms that the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation:


Prof Michael Mann from Penn State University in the US, who collaborated with CRU researchers on many projects and led the development of the noted "hockey stick" graph, said it was important that the criminals be brought to justice.


"I hope that the separate investigation underway by the Justice Department in the US will continue undaunted, especially since the British police concluded that the data breach was the result of a 'sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack'," he told BBC News.


The University of East Anglia issued this press release (7-18-12):


Police close investigation into hacked CRU emails


Wed, 18 Jul 2012


Prof Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, and Prof Phil Jones, Research Director of the Climatic Research Unit, have issued the following responses to Norfolk Constabulary's decision to close its investigation into the theft of emails from UEA's Climatic Research Unit:
Prof Acton said: “We are naturally disappointed that those responsible for this crime have not been caught and brought to justice. We are very grateful to Norfolk Constabulary for their sustained effort over the last two-and-a-half years, and appreciate the difficulty of devoting continued resources to such a complex international investigation. Clearly the perpetrators were highly sophisticated and covered their tracks extremely carefully. 

“The misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen emails – including the theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee - did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change. The results of the independent inquiries and recent scientific studies have vindicated our scientists, who have returned to their important task of providing the best possible scientific information on this globally critical issue.”

Prof Jones said: “I would like to thank the police for their work on this difficult investigation and also for the personal support they offered me. I am obviously disappointed that no-one has been prosecuted for this crime but hope today’s announcement will draw a line under the stressful events of the last two and half years. My colleagues and I remain committed to the research CRU undertakes to illuminate the globally important issue of climate change.”

For further information, please visit the Norfolk Constabulary website.



The Norfolk Constabulary issued this press release (7-18-12):


18 July 2012
Norfolk Constabulary has made the decision to formally close its investigation into the hacking of online data from the Climate Research Centre (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.
The decision follows a comprehensive investigation by the force’s Major Investigation Team, supported by a number of national specialist services, and is informed by a statutory deadline on criminal proceedings.
While no criminal proceedings will be instigated, the investigation has concluded that the data breach was the result of a ‘sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet’.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Julian Gregory, said: “Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.
“The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging.
“However, as a result of our enquiries, we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet. The offenders used methods common in unlawful internet activity to obstruct enquiries.
“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”
The security breach was reported to Norfolk Constabulary on 20 November 2009, following publication of CRU data on the internet from 17 November onwards.
An investigation was launched by the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, led by Det Supt Gregory, with some support from the The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, the National Domestic Extremism Team and the Police Central e-crime Unit, along with consultants in online security and investigation.
The investigation, code-named Operation Cabin, focused on unauthorised access to computer material, an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which has a three year limit on proceedings from the commission of the original offence. It has been concluded by Norfolk Constabulary, in consultation with The Met, that due to outstanding enquiries this is now an unrealistic prospect.
Norfolk Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Hall, Protective Services lead, said: “Online crime is a global issue. While law enforcement agencies continue to develop our response to emerging threats, it falls upon individuals and organisations to be alert to this and and take steps to mitigate risk as far as is practicable.”


Additional documents from the Norfolk Constabulary are posted on the right sidebar.

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