Neelie Kroes Says EC Computers Hacked In Azerbaijan

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
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Azerbaijan denies claims from European Commissioner that EC laptops were hacked in Baku

Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has claimed that laptops belonging to European Commission advisers were hacked when they were taken to a government conference in Azerbaijan.

The allegations were made in a blog post written by Kroes after she attended the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a UN-backed discussion group that debates the future of Internet policies, practices and technologies, in the capital, Baku.

Azerbaijan has disputed the allegations, claiming that they are designed to undermine the image of the country, but has invited the EC to submit any evidence so that it can begin an investigation.

Neelie Kroes said she was hacked

Hacker, Security © altafulla Shutterstock 2012In her post, Kroes said that she wasn’t sure whether or not to attend the conference given Azerbaijan’s human rights record, but decided to attend as the IGF has had a positive impact elsewhere and because the President offered her the chance to meet political prisoners.

“I wondered for a very long time whether I should attend this week’s Internet Governance Forum in Baku. But in fact many of the dozens of journalists, bloggers, and human rights defenders I met here thought it was helpful,” said Kroes. “And when the IGF comes to town, radical change often follows. Because, when empowered, connected citizens press for greater freedom. As happened in Tunisia and Egypt in the years after they held this conference.”

However Kroes did not meet any prisoners and alleged that “activists were harassed at the internet conference. My advisers had their computers hacked.”

The attacks allegedly took place at the hotel that Kroes and EC staff were staying at and they were alerted by security warnings from Apple. An EC spokesperson said that they believed it was some type of surveillance and that the computers were to be forensically analysed to see if any information had been taken out.

A spokesperson for the Azerbaijan President’s office told the country’s Trend newspaper that local law enforcement and the managers of the hotel had been told to “address the issue”, but that no evidence had been passed onto authorities.

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