Laptop at centre of probe into massive 2017 phone data leak

(FMT) – Police are investigating new evidence linked to a data leak about five years ago that reportedly involved 46 million Malaysian mobile numbers.

The new evidence is believed to revolve around the use of a highly-secure laptop computer from the premises of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to access a server containing the data of all Malaysian mobile phone subscribers.

FMT understands that the findings of a digital forensic team that examined the computer for the first time had contradicted the statements of a witness regarding use of the machine.

It is understood that the CCID (the police commercial crimes investigation department) has called for the related documents to be submitted for review.

The deputy public prosecutor is believed to have agreed for an investigation paper to be opened, with more people likely to be called up for questioning.

The new investigation follows a police report being lodged containing a complaint of perjury by a witness, possible misuse of computer networks, potential theft of data involving more than 46 million mobile numbers, and attempts at covering up criminal actions.

The new evidence is believed to have surfaced during arbitration proceedings brought by MCMC contractor Nuemera (M) Sdn Bhd and the commission.

The company’s contract had been terminated after the data leak led to suspicion about a public cellular blocking service built and operated by Neumera for MCMC. The system contains a central database of all mobile phone subscribers in the country.

MCMC said the contract was terminated for breach of service. However, Neumera said the police, after a six-month-long investigation in 2018, had found no evidence that the company or staff were involved in the leak or sale of data on the internet.

The company took arbitration action, claiming damages from MCMC for wrongful termination of its contract and other relief.

During the proceedings, the use of a secure laptop computer came into question for the first time, according to sources close to the investigation.

It had not been submitted to the police during the earlier investigation, and Neumera requested that the arbitration panel order that it be professionally examined.

The findings of the digital forensic experts who examined the computer contradicted the statements of a witness who said it had been kept securely, had not been accessed by the witness or anyone else at MCMC and that it had never left the commission’s premises.

When contacted by FMT, Nuemera representatives declined to comment on the case.