By FRANK BAJAK
LIMA, Peru (AP) — The Peruvian hackers have broken into military, police, and other sensitive government networks in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, defacing websites and extracting sensitive data to strut their programming prowess and make political points.
Now the team calling itself LulzSecPeru has created a national political uproar.
Emails the hackers stole from the Peruvian Council of Ministers’ network and dumped online last month fueled accusations that top Cabinet ministers have acted more like industry lobbyists than public servants. That helped precipitate a no-confidence vote last week that the Cabinet barely survived.
The hackers, who describe themselves as two young men, are a homegrown version of the U.S. and U.K-based LulzSec “black hat” hacker collective that has attacked the Church of Scientology and agitated on behalf of the WikiLeaks online secret-spillers and Occupy Wall Street.
A lot of “hacktivism” out of the United States and western Europe has waned or been driven underground by police pressure and arrests, said Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, who has studied the phenomenon.
“The hackers in Latin America, however, never really stopped,” Coleman said.
LulzSecPeru is widely considered the region’s most accomplished hacktivist team, said Camilo Galdos, a Peruvian digital security expert. Until now, their signature exploit was hijacking the Twitter accounts of Venezuela’s president and ruling socialist party during elections last year.
Nothing they’d done, however, had the impact of the online dump of an estimated 3,500 emails from the account of then-Prime Minister Rene Cornejo, dating from February to July. “Happy Hunting!” the hackers wrote when they linked to the upload destination.