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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pouring cold water on 'hacked' Climate Research Unit's E-Mail

I am skeptical that the recent publication of the collection of e-mail exchanges between scientists in the Climate Research Unit is the work of a hacker. My skepticism is now supported by a forensic analysis by a Unix System Administrator.
The only reasonable explanation for the archive being in this state is that the FOI Officer at the University was practising due diligence. The UEA was collecting data that couldn't be sheltered and they created FOIA2009.zip.

It is most likely that the FOI Officer at the University put it on an anonymous ftp server or that it resided on a shared folder that many people had access to and some curious individual looked at it.

If as some say, this was a targeted crack, then the cracker would have had to have back-doors and access to every machine at UEA and not just the CRU. It simply isn't reasonable for the FOI Officer to have kept the collection on a CRU system where CRU people had access, but rather used a UEA system.

Occam's razor concludes that "the simplest explanation or strategy tends to be the best one". The simplest explanation in this case is that someone at UEA found it and released it to the wild and the release of FOIA2009.zip wasn't because of some hacker, but because of a leak from UEA by a person with scruples.
 It is most likely an inside job.

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