Hacker claims he rigged presidential elections throughout Latin America. Could it happen here?

Photo: Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Andrés Sepúlveda, identified as a hacker from Colombia, says he and other hackers installed malware to monitor the opponents of Enrique Peña Nieto during the 2012 Mexican presidential campaign, as part of a ‘black propaganda’ operation.

Sepúlveda is now in prison, serving a 10 year sentence. He says other hackers were involved in that scheme, and similar schemes involving other nations.

The 'online campaign strategist' claims previously worked to manipulate elections in 9 other Latin American countries by stealing data, installing malware, and astrotufing phony praise or scorn for candidates on social media.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

For eight years, Sepúlveda, now 31, says he traveled the continent rigging major political campaigns. With a budget of $600,000, the Peña Nieto job was by far his most complex. He led a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, manipulated social media to create false waves of enthusiasm and derision, and installed spyware in opposition offices, all to help Peña Nieto, a right-of-center candidate, eke out a victory. On that July night, he cracked bottle after bottle of Colón Negra beer in celebration. As usual on election night, he was alone.

Sepúlveda’s career began in 2005, and his first jobs were small—mostly defacing campaign websites and breaking into opponents’ donor databases. Within a few years he was assembling teams that spied, stole, and smeared on behalf of presidential campaigns across Latin America. He wasn’t cheap, but his services were extensive. For $12,000 a month, a customer hired a crew that could hack smartphones, spoof and clone Web pages, and send mass e-mails and texts. The premium package, at $20,000 a month, also included a full range of digital interception, attack, decryption, and defense. The jobs were carefully laundered through layers of middlemen and consultants. Sepúlveda says many of the candidates he helped might not even have known about his role; he says he met only a few.

His teams worked on presidential elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela. Campaigns mentioned in this story were contacted through former and current spokespeople; none but Mexico’s PRI and the campaign of Guatemala’s National Advancement Party would comment.

How to Hack an Election, [Version en Español aquí] -- Bloomberg Businessweek

(via The Guardian)

PHOTO: Februrary 26, 2016. Bogotá, Colombia. Ándres Sepúlveda (31) lives at an undisclosed maximum-security building of the General Attorneys office (Fiscalia Nacional) in Bogotá, Colombia; where he is serving a 10 years sentence for hacking and spying on the government and elected officials. Juan Arredondo for Bloomberg BusinessWeek.