Lionel Messi personal data stolen and leaked in major data breach

Lionel Messi Argentina
(Image credit: / AGIF)

Some of the world's biggest sporting stars have had their personal data stolen from official government databases and leaked online.

Soccer icons Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero were among an initial tranche of celebrities who saw personal images and data published online by a hacker claiming to have infiltrated the Argentinian government’s IT network.

Known as RENAPER (Registro Nacional de las Personas), the country's national registry hosts, among other things, official ID card details and photos on the entire Argentinian population of around 45.3 million people.

Argentina data breach

News of the hack emerged in September 2021, when the hacker, using an account named @AnibalLeaks, published the details of 44 Argentinian celebrities on Twitter.

Alongside the football megastars, the figures included multiple journalists and political figures, including the Argentinian president Alberto Fernández. 

The hacker followed up these posts with an ad on a hacking forum offering to look up the details of any Argentinian, and claims to have access to all the files in the official database. This included full names, home addresses, birth dates, gender info, ID card issuance and expiration dates, labor identification codes, Trámite numbers, citizen numbers, and government photo IDs.

A Trámite number is similar to a US social security number, and should be protected by the user and the government in order to prevent fraud.

When contacted by The Record, the hacker said they were considering whether to publish a large cache of the data, possibly around 1-2 million people, as well as continuing to sell access to the data online.

The hacker blamed "careless employees" for the breach, which appears to have been through a compromised VPN account linked to the Argentinian Ministry of Health.

This contradicts an official statement made by the Argentinian government last week in which it claimed the RENAPER database did not suffer any data breach or leak.

The statement added that eight government employees were currently under investigation for possibly playing a role in the breach.

Via: The Record

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.