I'm not a racist homophobe, my Facebook was hacked! says UKIP candidate

Alan HarrisHere in the UK we're gearing up for a general election next month.

Leading politicians are on their best behaviour, whether being interviewed in their smaller second kitchens or being heckled by old-age pensioners.

And, if you have been following the British political scene, you will know that there is an upcoming party that is making a stir called UKIP (UK Independence Party).

One of UKIP's strongly-held views is that Britain should quit the European Union and toughen up immigration policies. The party, rightly or wrongly, has been dogged with accusations of racism.

UKIP won't win the general election, but it seems possible that they will bloody some noses and make it harder for one of the traditional ruling parties to form a majority government.

So, it's against this backdrop that many people are looking closely at what UKIP candidates have to say for themselves, including Alan Harris, the UKIP candidate in Oxford West & Abingdon.

The Hope Not Hate pressure group has published a story claiming that Mr Harris has been guilty of posting racist and homophobic statements on his Facebook page in the past.

I've chosen to pixellate some of the fruitier language in the following screenshots.

Post on UKIP candidate's Facebook page

Amongst the messages, which appear to have been published between October 2011 and February 2013, are suggestions that Romanians and Bulgarians are thieves, and comments extolling the virtues of bacon sandwiches whilst simultaneously railing against "f****** Muslims".

UKIP's Oxfordshire organiser Dickie Bird, who appears to have been the recipient of the bacon sandwich/f***** Muslims comment, told the Oxford Mail that he was a "close personal friend" or Mr Harris, and this was "not language he uses".

Nicola Blackwood, the constituency's current MP who is seeking re-election for the Conservatives, said: "These comments are abhorrent. If the UKIP candidate did indeed make them, he should first apologise and then resign immediately."

But did Alan Harris make the comments?

Facebook hackHe claims that the truth of the matter is that his Facebook account was hacked.

In fact, the UKIP parliamentary candidate went further and told The Independent that some of his best friends were Asians.

"I’m absolutely disgusted. My account has been hacked – again. You know what Facebook is like."

"I wouldn’t say anything about gay people because I have a gay son. I’ve got lots of Asian friends. I never said any of this."

If Alan Harris's Facebook page was hacked, you have to wonder what the motive might have been, why it continued for over a year without being spotted, and why Oxfordshire UKIP bigwig Dickie Bird didn't notice even if Alan Harris was oblivious?

Regardless, hacking someone's Facebook account is a serious business and a potential crime under the Computer Misuse Act. I do hope that Alan Harris has informed the police of this criminal act, as they could request information from Facebook which might be able to reveal - for instance - the IP address of the computer which was accessing his account without his permission.

Furthermore, if hackers were able to access Alan Harris's Facebook page without being noticed for such an extended period, I wonder what other accounts of his they were able to access, or what communications they were able to snoop upon?

If you're worried about your Facebook being hacked, I suggest you enable login approvals (Facebook's version of two-factor authentication), run up-to-date anti-virus software, and choose a strong, hard-to-crack, unique password.

Or you could just quit Facebook entirely. That's probably the easiest way to avoid anything being posted that might be... umm... misinterpreted.

If you are on Facebook, and want to be kept updated with news about security and privacy risks, and tips on how to protect yourself online, join the Graham Cluley Security News Facebook page. (I am happy for you to join, whatever your political persuasion).

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6 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    April 2, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    A DDG search of 'Alan Harris UKIP' turns up this link as the second result: https://yournextmp.com/person/4550/alan-harris

    It lists an email that has definitely been used to create a facebook account.

    If this is his genuine personal email address, that has immediately reduced the attack surface anyone with malicious intent would face. Should Mr Harris have failed to use a decent password, which people nearing their 50s are probably more likely to do, this could have been a point of security failure…

    …Having just looked more carefully at that page, the email was only added on the 19th of March, seemingly by Mr Harris with the user name 'alan6'. Googling this email address only gives results spanning back to the beginning of March this year, so I guess that theory can't be right given some of these posts date back to 2011.

    Regardless of whether or not he has been hacked, what does seem a little strange, is the fact that he has chosen to include the number "666" in both his email address and his twitter account.

    I wonder how long it may be before he starts getting accusations of being part of the occult or some sort of Satan worshiper. Cue the jokes about Farage being the devil…

    Oh and let's hope that there was no way of proving that he was at Wembley Stadium on the 10th November 2012 (apparently Muse were playing) otherwise his claim about all this being the work of hackers … spanning several years, might start to seem even weaker than it already is.

  2. Anonymous

    April 2, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    Ignore the part about Muse, that was 2010.

  3. Techno

    April 2, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    Hope Not Hate are a pretty nasty front group for radical communists that indulge in all sorts of underhand tactics to stitch up what they perceive as their opponents so you can't really trust either side in this I'm afraid.

    • Graham Cluley in reply to Techno.

      April 3, 2015 at 7:27 am #

      I have no experience of Hope Not Hate, but appreciate dirty tricks can be played.

      I guess that as an alleged hack has taken place, the police can easily confirm with Facebook whether the posts ever happened (or were faked by HNH) as part of their investigation into who the hacker might have been.

  4. Martin

    April 3, 2015 at 3:07 am #

    As Techno wrote, HnH is not to be trusted. If someone is looking for a simple way of slurring someone with a screenshot of so-called attitude problems you can do this with browser tools such as foxreplace which you can use to replace the text to your liking. No hacking necessary. Facebook comments and dates can be changed locally on your PC then a screenshot made of the results. The probable knowledgeable intended victim then has to play catch up as to how this was done and may think they've been hacked.

    • Graham Cluley in reply to Martin.

      April 3, 2015 at 7:33 am #

      You're right. It's easy to fake screenshots using the method you describe.

      Alan Harris, however, has said that his account was hacked. He hasn't said that the posts were never there in the first place.

      He could have easily claimed the screenshots were faked, but it appears he didn't do that.

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