Alleged computer insecurity leads magistrates to ask for suspension of systems

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(Updated) The complaints of the Public Prosecution Service Magistrates regarding the Ministry of Justice’s computer systems are not new, but now the Union asks for the immediate suspension of all systems alleging that there is a “proven insecurity in the State’s computer systems, namely the Justice ministry». The allegations are based on a report that will have been developed by the company Trusted Technologies.

The ITIJ, the entity responsible for the information systems of the Ministry of Justice, has already refuted the accusations, lamenting the «irresponsible way» how the Union made use of this information «thus contributing to speculation in a particularly sensitive area».

In a statement sent to the newsrooms, and quoted by the Jornal de Negócios, the Union of Public Prosecutors (SMMP) asks the Assembly of the Republic to exercise its supervisory powers in a “responsible and exhaustive” manner, in order to “end the a climate of insecurity and distrust with regard to Justice ”.

The report cited by the union, of 7 October, is available online and refers to the existence of a digital espionage network in the bodies of the Portuguese State. «Trusted Technologies’ computer security research team managed to infiltrate the» GhostNet «spy network, and access highly sensitive documents present on two spy network controllers,» says the report’s information.

Among the documents existing in the espionage network are technical documentation related to the computer network of the Portuguese electoral process, passwords and mails from officials of the Ministry of Justice, and the general directorate of registries and notaries, says the same document. This information will have been taken from the computers of judges or officials.

“After the electoral period, it is imperative that the Government and the Ministry of Justice finally assume all their responsibilities and recognize all the weaknesses of the system”, says the union’s statement that “strongly advises that the immediate suspension of all programs be considered in use, the only way to safeguard criminal information ”.

In July, the president of the Union of Public Prosecution Service Magistrates complained about the Ministry of Justice’s lack of responsiveness to requests for security audits from Citius to ascertain the source of strange entries into the system. In addition to these access problems, the slowness of the system has been one of the magistrates’ frequent complaints.

At the end of the day, the Institute of Information Technologies in Justice (ITIJ), the entity responsible for managing the information systems of the Ministry of Justice, issued a statement, refuting the Union’s allegations point by point and accusing Trusted Technologies of developing » a commercial and advertising promotion strategy «with the release of the report.

Without denying the existence of Ghostnet, the ITIJ notes that «these elements have been brought to the attention of the competent authorities for the purposes of the criminal investigation and determination of the criminal liability that may arise».

Regarding the communiqué of the Union of Magistrates of Public Prosecutions, ITIJ considers «absolutely regrettable the irresponsible way in which the heads of the Union of Magistrates of Public Prosecutions intend to make a public and alarmist use of this matter based on statements integrated in the commercial strategy of unknown private company, thus contributing to speculation in a particularly sensitive area «, says the same statement.

The union’s assertions that «all data from criminal cases, including investigations in secret in the law are contained in the Habilus» are still dubbed as false «, guaranteeing the Institute that Citius is not mandatory in criminal proceedings, and magistrates may choose its use in this case.

It is also refuted the statement that «all magistrates use computers connected to the MJ network», since the DCIAP, which is competent to investigate serious and organized crime, is not integrated into the Ministry of Justice network and does not use the Citius computer application, being integrated in its own and autonomous network.

Editor’s Note: The news was updated with the reaction of the ITIJ.