Marcelo D’Alessandro and Silvio Robles
A seven-page report prepared by experts from the Judicial Police of the City of Buenos Aires, concluded that the leak of private conversations on the phone of the Buenos Aires security minister, Marcelo D’Alessandro, was carried out through a hacking technique known as SIM Swapping, which consists of taking control of a telephone line from another device, without the consent of its owner. This is possible, according to what is described in the report that Infobae accessed, carrying out a procedure with the company that provides the service, alleging theft or loss of the telephone, and using information from the victim, such as their ID, address and even general information about their family, which is usually available in public databases. Once this is achieved, you can access the messaging applications that the user uses, such as Telegram or WhatsApp.
Public Prosecutor’s Office – report on the leak of chats of the security minister of the City of Buenos Aires, Marcelo D’Alessandro
The study was prepared by the Specialized Unit for Computer Crimes and Contraventions of the Scientific Department of the Judicial Police, and bears the signature of the expert Marcos Vassani. It was requested by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the City of Buenos Aires after the political impact generated by the airing of chats that would correspond to officials of the Buenos Aires government and the Judiciary.
As a consequence of this, the Buenos Aires security minister, Marcelo D’Alessandro, had to resort to a license from his functions, after the dissemination of conversations with Silvio Robles, spokesman for the president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Horacio Rossatti , in which recommendations would be derived regarding the dispute with the ruling party at the national level for control of the Council of the Magistracy. Deputies of the Frente de Todos qualified as “advice” by the judicial official towards the Buenos Aires government, through D’Alessandro.
Silvio Robles chats with Marcelo D’Alessandro
The private conversations between D’Alessandro and Robles, released on December 30, were the second leak that involved members of the opposition and the judiciary. Before, on December 6, 2022, with a similar mechanism, private chats between opposition leaders, judicial officials and even media managers had been known, which revealed a joint trip to the ranch of the British magnate, Joe Lewis, located in Lago Escondido, in Argentine Patagonia.
Regardless of their questioned origin, the leaders of the Frente de Todos, President Alberto Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, exposed the leaks as the main argument to denounce collusion between the Judiciary and Together for Change, the majority opposition force. in the country. From there derived the request for impeachment promoted by the national president, with the support of Kirchnerism, against the four members of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. This process will formally begin in the Chamber of Deputies on January 26.
It may interest you: The Government formalized the complaint against judges, prosecutors, officials and media entrepreneurs who shared a trip to Lago Escondido
Faced with the storm of accusations, the leaders of Together for Change in general, and D’Alessandro in particular, pointed out the illegal maneuver through which the conversations were obtained. Regarding the content, the Buenos Aires official assures that he was “manipulated”.
The report prepared by the Judicial Police does not elaborate on this point, but it does provide an explanation regarding how D’Alessandro’s personal phone was hacked.
Indeed, it explains that the first step used by the attackers is to carry out intelligence work on the victim. It consists of gathering personal information, such as the document number, address, jobs and even general information on relatives.
Once this data is obtained, it is possible to initiate the maneuver to duplicate the victim’s telephone line, activating it on a new device. It is known as SIM Swapping, and also with expressions such as SIM Splitting, SIM Jacking or SIM Hijacking. “It implies the transfer of control of mobile operations from an existing SIM card to another, without the user’s consent,” according to the report from the Buenos Aires agency.
This is possible when the attacker, armed with his victim’s personal data, contacts the telephone company claiming theft or loss of the equipment, and requests that the line be reassigned to the new SIM card, which is in his possession.
“The borrowing company requires the correct answer to five questions, the answers to which can be found in public databases, such as NOSIS or VERAZ,” explains the technical report. This would be the maneuver that they would have executed on D’Alessandro’s cell phone.
Once control of the line is obtained, it is possible to download the messaging applications used by the hacked user, such as Telegram or WhatsApp. When the app is downloaded to the new phone, it requires a code for its installation, which is normally sent by text message (SMS). Since the attackers have control of the line, they can receive it and then enter it. From there they already have access to the message history in the application.
Public Prosecutor’s Office – Chats D’Alessandro
On the other hand, the work explains that there are two ways to protect yourself against a SIM Swapping attack. The first is the activation of the “Two-Step Verification” function, which adds an extra notice, which can be sent by email, to the user when their profile is being registered on a new device.
The second way to protect yourself is to look at the number of linked devices in the app options. If the user sees a strange device, it can remove it automatically.
In the case of Telegram, in addition, one way to protect yourself against the duplication of the conversation history is to activate the “Secret Chat” function. This allows the content of the chat to be seen only on the two devices on which the exchange occurred, since Secret Chat messages are not hosted on servers.
The report directed by the expert Varani explains that it is not possible to determine at what moment the attack against the telephone of the Buenos Aires security minister took place, for which reason it does not issue a judgment regarding whether D’Alessandro could have taken the aforementioned precautions.
The Justice closed the case against the secretary of Horacio Rosatti because it considered that the chats are illegalMore chats were leaked from the cell phone of Marcelo D’Alessandro, Buenos Aires Minister of Security
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