Until now we have seen something of similar only in the TV series, but the reality could overwhelm the fiction because a Columbian hacker claims he helped Enrique Peña Nieto in winning Mexican presidential election.
The hacker named Andrés Sepúlveda revealed to have operated in a team with peers to install a malware to monitor opponents during the 2012 campaign as part of a hacking campaign codenamed ‘black propaganda.’
The hackers helped Enrique Peña Nieto win Mexico’s 2012 presidential election, they manipulated the event it in nine countries across Latin America. The hackers have installed malware with the intent to spy on target machines and steal data, they also used a botnet to manage PSYOPs on the social media trying to influence the final decision of the voters.
The hacker, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for hacking crimes related to Colombia’s 2014 presidential election, released an interview to Bloomberg explaining that he was hired by the Miami-based political consultant Juan José Rendón.
“My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumors—the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see” the man told to Bloomberg.
Sepúlveda added that his primary motivation was political, he hacked in opposition to what he defined “dictatorships and socialists governments.”
The political consultant Juan José Rendón denied to have hired Sepúlveda for illegal activities and confirmed that he paid him in 2005 for the development of a web site.
“He is delusional,” Rendón said in a phone call. “All the things he describes are exactly like the TV show Mr Robot.”
“Can you really change the will of the people through social networks? Maybe in Ukraine or Syria where there is no alternatives. But here (in the Americas) where there is TV, a free press and door to door campaigns, it is not so influential,” he added.
Sepúlveda confirmed to have had a $600,000 budget to undermine the presidential campaigns Nieto’s opponents, Josefina Vázquez Mota and Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The hacker team compromised computers at the headquarters of the two candidates in order to monitor communications and exfiltrate sensitive data, including speech drafts and campaign schedules.
They also managed a PSYOP through the principal social networks by using a multitude of fake Twitter accounts to fuel the public debate on the Peña Nieto’s political plan and discrediting his rivals, all these accounts were carefully managed in a way to appear legitimate.
“He wrote a software program, now called Social Media Predator, to manage and direct a virtual army of fake Twitter accounts. The software let him quickly change names, profile pictures, and biographies to fit any need. Eventually, he discovered, he could manipulate the public debate as easily as moving pieces on a chessboard—or, as he puts it, “When I realized that people believe what the Internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything.”” reported Bloomberg.
Sepúlveda confirmed to have used a strategy similar to the ‘black propaganda’ in order to influence the opinion of voters in other elections in several countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
Unfortunately, the man has destroyed most of the evidence of his support to the politic candidates in various presidential campaigns.
Which is the Peña Nieto’s position?
The Office of the President issued the following statement:
“We reject any relationship between the 2012 presidential campaign team and Andrés Sepúlveda or that there was a contract with the consultant J.J. Rendón.”
(Security Affairs – Peña Nieto, presidential election)