Unknown individuals attempted to gain access to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog by impersonating her and sent emails to a company handling the security of her blog. Testifying on Friday morning, a witness told the board of inquiry that once an unusual hacking attempt took place when an unknown individual tried to gain access to vital details. Had they succeeded, those behind the attack could have sent emails on behalf of Daphne Caruana Galizia, received emails sent to her and cloned her website. The hacking attempt was described as an atypical attack since it was a case of social engineering.
Court-appointed expert Keith Cutajar also testified on Friday.
The public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is tasked with determining whether the state did all it could to prevent the assassination.
The board of inquiry is chaired by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia, and composed of Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Madame Justice Abigail Lofaro.
Lawyers Therese Comodini Cachia and Jason Azzopardi assisted the Caruana Galizia family.
The next sitting is on Wednesday at 9.30 am.
The attack happened on 11 February 2017.
Dr Comodini Cachia remarks that the date of the attack is significantly close to the story concerning Chris Cardona.
He explains that one of the attacks suffered by the blog, is a DDoS attack. Such attacks crash websites with bogus traffic.
In 20 years in the field, this was the first case of an attempted hacking by social engineering, the witness tells the board.
The witness says that this attack could have potentially led to the identification of her sources.
The witness says that he had informed Daphne Caruana Galizia about the attack who had engaged a lawyer.
The company started handling the blog in 2014.
In February 2017, the company started receiving emails from a person impersonating Daphne Caruana Galizia. Whoever was behind the emails started asking the company's employees on how to access the blog.
The witness says while they had replied to the person/s, the company did not give the person/s any information which they were after and realised what was happening. Whoever it was, used various emails and emailed different employees within the company.
This is not a standard way to hack, the witness remarks.
"This is an example of social engineering. They knew the names of the people in our organisation and had their emails," the witness says, noting how usually a hacking attempt would be anonymous.
The logs for the two phones end at 6.40 pm.
If data was available from another two antennas, he could see where the two mobiles were.
Cutajar says that he did not know where the conference was held.
Dr Azzopardi reads out from Daphne Caruana Galizia that the conference was in Essen.
Referring to German service providers, he explains how their antennas function in Germany.
O2 have replied to the questions.
"We're talking about two phones one registered on Mimcol and the other on Dr Cardona," Cutajar says.
"The phones are typically in close ranges."
The antenna is in Essen.
Velbert is approximately 20km from the antenna from which the court expert has data. He describes this as "a very reasonable range".
The expert was unable to triangulate the exact position because he did not receive any information from other towers in the area which would have enabled him to triangulate the position of the two mobile phones which were in close range of each other.
The report is final although some data is still expected from service providers. Due to the passage of time and data retention policies, it is unlikely that any data will be received.
Highlights from the last court hearing:
- “I was so drawn to him that we used to travel together, he got me permission to operate my taxi from Portomaso and he used to pay for my travel,” said Theuma.
- The board asked whether Fenech tried to reach out to Theuma following his arrest. Theuma answered with a “no”.
- Theuma explained how at times, Fenech used to mention travelling to Bangladesh, Dubaj, Rome, Azerbaijan and France.
- While crying, Theuma said that he is truly sorry for what he has done.
- “If it turns out that there’s another person that gave me money to commission the murder apart from Yorgen Fenech, I ask the President to not only revoke my presidential pardon but to also give me the death penalty,” said Theuma.