A group of ‘hacktivists’ has targeted the state police chiefs’ assocation as part of a larger operation against police groups across the nation.
The FBI is currently investigating the incident.
The outfit, calling itself ‘CabinCr3w,’ claims to be affiliated with the group Anonymous, which rose to notoriety last year when its members crashed the websites of PayPal and several major credit card companies that had cut off donation accounts to WikiLeaks.
CabinCr3w gained access to a server containing some personal information – including home addresses and telephone numbers – on a large number of police chiefs and senior staff officers from throughout West Virginia. The group then posted the information to the internet via a link on its Twitter account.
Chief William Roper of the Ranson Police Department is the current president of the West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association. He said that the information released after the hacking attack was not very sensitive and has not caused any major disruptions.
“The website that they hacked was the website that we discontinued using about two years ago,” Roper said. “It just had basic information. It was the kind of information that allowed us to correspond with one another. It was basically a contact list.”
“This is information that is readily available,” Roper said. “All the information they had on me was already on our department’s website.”
The method the group used to obtain access to the police chiefs’ system has not yet been released, but the information posted by CabinCr3w indicates that there was no password set for the ‘System’ administrator account.
The hacking attack and subsequent release of information is similar to a number of CabinCr3w’s releases of personal information on police groups nationwide, including the Newark, N.J. Police Foundation, the Houston Police Department, the Dallas Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Much of that information has been drawn from public records, according to a statement on CabinCr3w’s Tumblr page, but the information on the West Virginia Police Chiefs Association members was obtained by hacking a retired website (www.wvcop.com).
The group states the hacking attacks and information releases have been in retaliation for police brutality.
“As of late we have been watching cases of Police Brutality against the general (public) with a piqued interest. We have been taking notes while watching police departments across the United States become more (militarized) and weaponized at our expense,” according to a statement preceding the data release.
The group closes many of their messages with a signature warning: “Expect us.”
The group’s Twitter account contains numerous posts critical of the behavior of police who broke up the Occupy Oakland encampment, but there are no criticisms aimed specifically at West Virginia police.
Roper said he and other police chiefs in West Virginia are cooperating with the FBI to attempt to track down the individual members of CabinCr3w.
“(The FBI has) identified the group. They are identifying the particular individuals who had not only the technology but the equipment to get in. It is being traced back to those individuals as we speak,” Roper said.
“West Virginia law says that if you hack in to get any information it is against the law,” said Roper, adding that the relatively innocuous nature of the material leaked did not excuse the hacking attack. “These folks that have committed this crime, as far as I’m concerned, we’re going to prosecute fully.”
Roper said his organization is currently working with a number of IT experts to improve the security on its new system.
He said he is baffled by the actions of CabinCr3w.
“I know there’s people out there that are anti-police,” Roper said. “But just to pick random agencies throughout the country to hack into their systems … I don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish.”