Climate change cause damaged by hackers

A controversial debate about climate change has been kick-started after hackers broke into the email accounts of a leading global warming research centre.

The Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia was targeted by the hackers who leaked personal emails from a number of its staff online. UEA officials later confirmed the hack had taken place and a police investigation is underway.

The CRU has been instrumental in the study and evaluation of the human impact on the climate and has helped to produce many authoritative reports to inform governmental action and policy in relation to climate change around the world.

Data security experts provided explanations as to why the CRU had been the target of the hacks. The approach of the Copenhagen climate summit is believed to have heightened the profile of the UEA, making it a more obvious target.

As a result of emails published after the hack it emerged that some key players within the CRU had expressed doubts about the veracity of some evidence for climate change. This information was jumped upon by climate change sceptics as evidence of a wider conspiracy of data manipulation by climate change institutions.

It was revealed that the stolen data extended beyond emails, with documents and detailed research also being extrapolated from the server.

As a result of the incident, the head of research at the CRU, Professor Phil Jones, has stepped down from his position until a full investigation into both the hack and the contents of the emails themselves has been carried out. Professor Jones believes that any claims of wrongdoing are based on one or two key words from a 10 year old email taken completely out of context.

Despite the disruption caused by the hack, the CRU is set to continue its work, although security experts are calling for heightened measures to ensure that similar incidents do not recur. Universities are seen as being particularly vulnerable to attacks because of the volume of individual users that they necessarily service, although most use fairly robust security in order to protect the personal data of their staff and students.

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