Hackers tap into 70 law enforcement websites, including Cape County sheriff
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department is among the more than 70 law enforcement agencies that were cyberattacked over the weekend by an infamous global group of computer hackers known as Anonymous.
The group admits to stealing massive amounts of confidential information, including email exchanges, Social Security numbers and other sensitive data. The FBI is investigating, said Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan, although he said he is not aware if any local information has been posted online or used for identity theft purposes.
Still, Jordan said, "it is serious. It's the same group that is associated with WikiLeaks, and they're well-versed at hacking."
Anonymous, a worldwide group of Internet hackers that call themselves "hacktivists," are taking credit, saying they've pulled off their biggest "heist-and-post" yet, dumping 10 gigabytes of stolen data online in retaliation for the arrests of its sympathizers in the U.S. and Great Britain.
The hacking victims included five county sheriffs in Missouri along with the Missouri Sheriffs' Association. The association's website was still down Monday, but the other sites in Cape Girardeau, Johnson, Lincoln, Polk and Stone counties were up and running. Jordan said the department's site was back up and running within four days.
Anonymous is calling it "Shooting Sheriffs Saturday," and bragged in a release that the information they obtained is meant to embarrass, discredit and incriminate police officers across the U.S. The group said the information included "hundreds of private email spools, password information, address and Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, snitch information, training files and more."
Lt. David James, who works at the sheriff's department in Jackson, said what information the hackers have depends on how long they had access to the server. He said he did not know how long that was and that he didn't know what was published. Actions credited to Anonymous are undertaken by hackers who post the information in the vastness of the Internet by people who know how to conceal their identity.
"There is no way for us to know what was taken or not," James said. "But I would say that it would worry all of us that hackers had access to law enforcement's information and intends to publish it."
In the past, Anonymous has hacked and published information stolen from the Bank of America, several foreign government sites, Sony, the Oregon Tea Party and others. CNN recently called Anonymous one of three potential successors to WikiLeaks, the whistle-blower website that publishes and comments on leaked documents that allege government and corporate misconduct.
This time, Anonymous hacked into the law-enforcement sites through Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing of Arkansas, which hosts many government sites, including the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department's. Brooks-Jeffrey has yet to grant media interviews on the matter.
Jordan said he is not considering finding a new company to host the department's site.
"If the Pentagon can be hacked, anybody can," Jordan said.
Jordan said his main concern is personal information belonging to those who work at his department, specifically their Social Security numbers, which could be used for identity theft. Jordan said he did not think credit card information was a concern in his department's case.
He's advised his deputies and other employees to contact agencies such as the three credit bureaus to let them know that their information may have been compromised. They should ask that their credit be monitored for at least 90 days for any suspicious activity and perhaps another 90 days after that, he said. Passwords have already been changed, he said.
While worrisome, Jordan said it's also been aggravating.
"You get hacked, and then it makes you hacked," he said. "This group prides itself on basically being anarchists and going in and getting information. They hate government, and they want to create havoc."
216 N. Missouri St., Jackson, MO