Hacking to save forests in Nicaragua

National Forest Institute of the Nicaraguan government data leaked.4 min


On 09 May 2020, a Hacker by the Handle of Lorian Synaro disclosed that together with Nama Tikure they hacked the National Forest Institute of the Nicaraguan government.

As a result, emails, private documents, and information leaked.

The leak was analyzed by Twitter user Solidify. He could verify that INAFOR, the National Forest Registry Office, registered a 329-hectare plot of forest plantation in the name of OPERA S.A., which would consequentially sell it’s wood.

The finding was the result of a preliminary examination. The twitter user expressed there is much more to find due to the share volume of the leak.

The Hacker group attacked the National Forest Institute with a clear purpose to expose the wrongdoing of the government lead by President Daniel Ortega. This echos a deepening political and social crisis of Nicaragua. The crisis led to hundreds of protester deaths and more than 100.000 fleeing the country.

The Guardian recently published an article on the issue of illegal land grabs in indigenous territories in Nicaragua.

From the article

“The violence has increased in recent years, obscured first by the government’s crackdown on protests that began in April 2018 and more recently by the world’s attention being diverted by the coronavirus pandemic. “

Nicaragua is promoting illegal land grabs in indigenous territories – report, The Guardian.

In another article, the Guardian exposed that in the illegal land grabbings, indigenous people have been killed and other kidnapped.

An aerial photo from September 2015 shows land cleared by ‘settlers’ in Murubila, Nicaragua. Photograph: Esteban Félix/AP

Based on the articles, I wanted to verify how much the deforestation in the area of Murubila, Nicaragua is advancing.

To do that, I used the EO Browser that combines multiple satellite imagery into one handy tool. Satellite imagery can also be used to assess plant density and health. This because plants reflect near-infrared and green light while absorbing red. So the denser plant growth, the darker red will appear in the image.

Murubila area, Nicaragua February 2020
Murubila area, Nicaragua April 2020
Murubila area, Nicaragua May 2020

In one area close to Murubilia, there is a big difference between February and May.

Apart from the cloud shadows, one can note the appearing grey zones that might indicate deforestation.

The above proof is not confirmed. There is a need for a more in-depth investigation with people familiar with the issue and area.

At the same time, it gave me an indication that the Hacker Group is up to something bigger.
I usually observed that Hakctivist operations, mostly consists of taking down websites of governments for a certain amount of time to create disruption.

Yet this breach shows a clear intent of the hackers to expose a significant Government operation in logging The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, renowned for its biodiversity.

I contacted Hacker Lorian Synaro to ask some questions.

Can you tell me what are the motives behind what you did?

We have been watching the Nicaraguan situation for a few weeks and have seen that the people were suffering from the oppression of their government. We have already made an OpNicaragua in 2018 so we know what type of government they have. They have killed a lot of innocent protesters. As Anonymous stands for freedom and against oppression, we have decided to act and target their government. So we try to hack their servers and expose their secrets and corruption. Like we did for the Inafor servers.
We are in a middle of a climate crisis where we are needing nature the most. But evil governments are still destroying nature.

The Hacker confirmed that more journalists are looking into the data dump.

As from how the hack happened, Lorian wrote:

We had access to their servers and mail servers. We made a few bruteforce attacks and got many of their logins.

We also talked about the duality and safety of being a Hacktivist, where I received an explanation that they do all that is necessary to secure their identity.

Both Hackers are not new to hacktivism as he participated in several operations in the last years.

Lorian Synaro Tweet activity analysed with the great Tweets analyzer tool
Namatikure Tweet activity activity analysed with the same tool.

Now Lorian Synaro is calling for additional action against the Nicaraguan government.

With the country high on the corruption index, journalists can use the leak to find proofs and hidden connections of the Nicaraguan government.

Accordingly to Transparency International report Nicaragua has a high degree of corruption, putting the Country on a 161 position of 180.

The findings if combined with OSINT tools like satellite image search can build a solid case against illegal logging and destruction of protected wildfire.


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