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Victims’ group sceptical of hacking theory behind Trafficwatch IRA hunger striker retweet | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


The Trafficwatch NI Twitter account — which is run by Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure (DfI) — shared a tweet from Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy relating to IRA man Martin Hurson on Thursday.

“Our National Flag flying proudly in memory of Martin Hurson on top of Sawel, highest mountain in Sperrins. Died on Hunger Strike 42 years ago today. RIP,” the post read.

It was accompanied by a photo showing a memorial to Hurson, who was imprisoned over his involvement in three landmine attacks in which RUC and UDR members narrowly escaped death.

The Trafficwatch account later posted on Thursday: “There is a political tweet apparently retweeted by @TrafficwatchNI — it wasn`t tweeted by this office — not sure how to remove it — this will be investigated (17:00).”

DfI subsequently launched an investigation into the incident, including examining whether the account was hacked.

“Security measures on the platform have been increased,” DfI added.

Kenny Donaldson of the Troubles victims’ organisation the South East Fermanagh Foundation said the group is not content that the hacking theory should “automatically be accepted as fact”.

“If this theory is accurate then there are significant security issues at stake where remedial action is now needed,” he added.

“If, however, the retweet was carried out by a staff member or official with access to the account, then there must follow robust action.

“It is essential that a thorough and transparent investigation takes place and the outcomes made known to the public.

“Sinn Fein eulogising those who were involved in terrorism is what we’ve known for the duration of that political party’s existence — it’s wrong and it’s the continuance of the terrorism by psychological means.

“Having such views presented via Trafficwatch NI’s Twitter account merits genuine concern”.

TUV councillor TUV Braid Councillor Matthew Warwick said the sharing of pro-terrorist material by someone with access to the Trafficwatch NI account, and DfI’s response to the incident, is “deeply concerning”.

Mr Warwick also hit out at the post referring to the original post as a “political tweet”.

“It was a tweet which celebrated a terrorist convicted of involvement in not one but three terrorist attacks which but for the grace of God would have resulted in innocent people being ushered out into eternity,” he said.

“Not just the retweeting but the pathetic response of the department has caused gross offence to innocent victims of Republican terrorism. The casual response to a publicly funded account celebrating a terrorist is completely unacceptable.

“Anyone who knows the basics of how Twitter operates will find the department’s claim that the account was hacked difficult to credit as well. Why did the hacking only result in this retweet? When did they regain access to the account? A much more credible explanation is that an employee of the department is responsible.

“The casual response of the department, seeking to brush it off as merely a “political tweet” suggests that the powers that be do not regard this matter as being as serious as they should.”

DfI was contacted for an update on its investigation and for a response to Mr Warwick’s and Mr Donaldson’s comments.

A spokesperson said: “The department is taking this matter very seriously. We continue to work actively with our IT suppliers to investigate this matter. Security measures on the platform remain increased.”

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