Hackers take over law enforcement websites

DENISE LAVOIE AP Legal Affairs Writer Published:

BOSTON (AP) -- The hacking collective Anonymous is claiming credit for defacing the Boston Police Department's website, part of a string of online attacks around the world being attributed to the group.

A message posted on the website Friday said, "Anonymous hacks Boston Police website in retaliation for police brutality at OWS," apparently a reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement. A police spokesman would not confirm Anonymous was responsible.

In Salt Lake City, police say hackers who attacked the department's website on Tuesday gained access to sensitive data, including citizen complaints about drug crimes, including phone numbers, addresses and other personal information.

The attacks come after Anonymous published a recording of a phone call between the FBI and Scotland Yard early Wednesday, gloating in a Twitter message that "the FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now."

In Greece, the Justice Ministry took down its site Friday after a video by activists claiming to be Greek and Cypriot members of Anonymous was displayed for at least two hours.

Police in Salt Lake City blamed the attack on Anonymous' opposition to an anti-graffiti paraphernalia bill that eventually failed in the state Senate. The website remained down Friday as the investigation continued, and police said criminal charges are being considered.

In a message posted on the Boston police department's website, the group said that the site had been attacked several months ago and that hundreds of passwords were released in retaliation for what they called brutality against Occupy Boston.

In October, Boston police acknowledged that various websites used by members of the police department -- including the website belonging to the police patrolmen's association -- had been hacked and possibly compromised. The department said it had asked all department personnel to change their passwords on the police department's network.

Boston's Occupy movement set up camp in the city's financial district for two months this fall. The first hack came about 10 days after Boston police arrested 141 Occupy Boston demonstrators on Oct. 11.

Police dismantled the camp Dec. 10, citing public health and safety concerns.

"They clearly ignored our warnings," the message on the department's website said Friday.

"So you get your kicks beating protesters? "That's OK; we get kicks defacing ... your websites -- again."

"It is unfortunate that someone would go to this extent to compromise BPDNews.com, a helpful and informative public safety resource utilized daily by community members seeking up-to-date news and information about important safety matters," police said in a statement.

Anonymous is a collection of Internet enthusiasts, pranksters and activists whose targets have included financial Visa and MasterCard, the Church of Scientology and law enforcement agencies.

Following a spate of arrests across the world, the group and its various offshoots have focused their attention on law enforcement agencies in general and the FBI in particular.

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Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.