Anonymous claims release of BART police officers' data

Hack of 102 officers' data in apparent retaliation for last weeks mobile phone service service cut-off

Hackers claiming to belong to the Anonymous hacking collective this morning publicly posted the names, home addresses, email addresses and passwords of 102 police officers belonging to San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency.

The move was in apparent retaliation for BARTs decision to temporarily cut off underground cell phone service to commuters last Thursday in response to a planned protest against the shooting of a homeless man by BART police in March.

News of the attack was released via a Twitter account associated with Anonymous' attacks on BART. However, another Twitter account used by Anonymous noted that "no one claimed responsibility" for this morning's incident.

"Some random Joe joined a channel and released the data to the press," the tweet noted. Another tweet noted that the leak of BART police data "could be the work sanctioned by those who truly support anonymous, or agent provocateurs. Stay skeptical."

This is the second time in less than a week that hackers claiming to be from Anonymous have attacked BART for the same reason. Earlier this week members of the group broke into a BART website and released user names, addresses and phone numbers of more than 2,000 BART customers.

BART did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment on the latest intrusion. But a brief statement posted on BARTs main site condemned the attack.

"We are deeply concerned about the safety and security of our employees and their families," BART's interim general manager, Sherwood Wakeman, said in the statement. "We stand behind them and our customers who were the subject of an earlier attack. We are deeply troubled by these actions."

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the BART police union website from which the data was accessed remained unavailable.

The attacks by Anonymous against BART are similar to numerous other attacks the group has carried out recently. Over the last one year, its victims have included PayPal, Amazon.com, Sony and Booz Allen Hamilton.

In June, Anonymous was labeled a cyberterrorism group by the Arizona Department of Public Safety after members of the group repeatedly attacked Arizona police union.

Most of the attacks have been in retaliation for some perceived wrongdoing on the part of the targeted organization. PayPal for instance was attacked for its perceived opposition to WikiLeaks, while the Arizona law enforcement websites were targeted to protest the state's tough immigration laws.

In BART's case, the agency has been targeted for temporarily shutting down cell phone service at several stations last week. BART officials claimed that the move was necessary to preserve public safety after several protestors planned a demonstration to protest the killing of Charles Hill by BART police.

Though BART has stoutly defended its action, it has been roundly slammed by civil rights groups for its decision. The FCC has said it will look into/a> the incident.

The continuing attacks by Anonymous are sure to increase pressure on law enforcement to track down members of the group. In July, the FBI arrested 14 alleged members of Anonymous for their supposed role in launching a series of distributed denial of service attacks PayPal last December. Similar arrests have been made in other countries as well.

So far, those actions appear to have done little to slow down the attacks. In fact, soon after the arrests, members of Anonymous and LulzSec, a splinter group, issued a joint statement vowing to carry on the attacks and daring law enforcement to catch them.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

Read more about data security in Computerworld's Data Security Topic Center.

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Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld (US)
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