Hackers attack Ontario police chiefs' website
Published Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:38PM EST
Anonymous -- the hacker group affiliated with a string of cyber attacks against corporations and law enforcement agencies -- has apparently added the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to its hit list.
The association's website was hacked Friday afternoon by activists affiliated with the loose-knit group, association spokesperson Joe Couto said.
The identity of those responsible for the attack has not been confirmed. However, Anonymous activists threatened to target federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews over the Harper government's proposed online surveillance bill. The police chiefs association supports the contentious legislation.
The hackers posted usernames, passwords and email addresses they say belong to senior members of the police chiefs association, information that was quickly distributed over Twitter.
"Welcome to a database leak," reads a message about the data breach. It then appears to allude to privacy issues at stake in Ottawa's proposed surveillance legislation. "Snoop on to them as they Snoop on to you," it says.
The police chief association dismantled its website, which now includes one terse message: "Under maintenance."
Couto said the cyber attack won't deter the association's support for enhanced federal surveillance legislation.
"The police chiefs have been very clear on this," he told CTV News.
Couto said it's ironic the association's website was hacked just as it was preparing to launch a cybercrime prevention campaign on Monday.
The Conservative government says its surveillance bill is aimed at protecting the public -- mainly children -- from online predators. Among other things, it would allow police to demand – without a warrant -- that internet service providers hand over basic customer information. Many police organizations support the bill.
But privacy advocates aren't as enamoured with the proposed law. They say the bill gives police too many surveillance powers, allowing them to track web users' online movements without their consent.
The legislation prompted a wave of cyber attacks against Toews. Last week, his divorce records, which are public, were published on Twitter.
Couto said the cyber attack has bolstered the organization's support for the government's surveillance bill.
"What this does is demonstrate quite clearly to Canadians the type of cyber crimes perpetuated every day," Couto said Saturday.
He said police are currently bound by laws drafted in the 1970s, "when the rotary phone was cutting-edge technology."
Ontario Provincial Police are investigating the breach to determine how much information was accessed, Couto said.
Anonymous, a collection of activists and Internet mischief-makers, has increasingly focused its energy on military, police and security companies in recent months.
Among its most spectacular coups: The interception of a conference call between the FBI and London police cyber-investigators working to track them down.
At least one element within the group has promised weekly attacks on government-linked targets.
In West Virginia earlier this month, Anonymous hackers, in a move similar to the Ontario police chief website attack, obtained personal information for more than 150 police officers from an old website of the West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association and posted the data online.
With files from The Canadian Press