Sedena Requests 3.9 Billion Pesos to Combat Cyberattacks

Photo: Michael Geiger/Unsplash


Despite Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) repeatedly minimizing the seriousness of the Guacamaya leaks — a collection of over 4 million confidential Mexican government documents that were released in late September 2022 by a group of international hackers — Mexico’s Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) admitted on Thursday, April 20, that its computer equipment “is in a critical state” and has requested an additional budget of 3.9 billion pesos “to increase the capacity” of its data storage center.

“There are limitations in the tasks of national and public security, and one of them is technological lag, which leads to security vulnerabilities that compromise the computer services hosted in the information databases, as well as high maintenance costs and support for obsolete equipment,” said the Sedena in its investment request letter. “The information technology, communications and industrial infrastructure (of the Sedena) is inadequately functioning.”

Seven months ago, the Sedena was a victim of a massive cyberattack by the international hacktivist group Guacamaya, which extracted confidential military information that was disseminated to the public. Included in the information made public at that time was López Obrador’s health situation, as well as transcripts of wiretaps and even emails between commanders of the Mexican Navy and the Sedena.

The information stolen from the Sedena also allegedly revealed that the Mexican Army spied on feminist groups and human rights activists, whom it described as a “threat on par with organized crime.”

In its investment request, for which Interim Deputy General Director of National Defense Informatics Celso Monjaraz is a signatory, the Sedena said that it requires a new information technology architecture, as the government department’s infrastructure “is classified as critical, since it does not meet the requirements in terms of capacity, processing, storage and computer security.”

In addition to the 3.9 billion request for expanding its data storage center, the Sedena likewise projected spending 76 million pesos for the purchase of a military communications supervision system for its cyberspace operations center in Mexico City, in an attempt to protect itself from future cyberattacks and hacking.

In an opinion column in October of last year for the Washington Post, Mexican journalist Carlos Loret de Mola criticized AMLO’s reaction to the Guacamaya hacks, saying that “the president has not accepted the seriousness of the leaks” and that “López Obrador says that the hacking did not expose anything serious, that it is not news, that no one cares anymore … but he still has to talk almost every day about the matter, because regularly there is a new revelation against his administration.”

Incidentally, the most recent revelation from the Guacamaya leaks involves the alleged luxury trips taken by Secretary of National Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval, head of the Sedena. According to the information, as well as an investigation carried out by journalist Ignacio Rodríguez Reyna in collaboration with nonprofit civil organization Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, Sandoval purportedly took regular luxury trips with his family — trips that were allegedly charged to the Mexican Treasury — despite López Obrador’s so-called program of “Franciscan austerity.”

AMLO, meanwhile, in his daily morning press conference on Wednesday, April 19, brushed off the allegations against the Sedena head.

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