Technology

Fraternal Order of Police Website Hack Highlights Anti-Police Sentiment

By / Jan 29, 2016 (Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

The attack, targeting the online assets and private files of the major police group, appears to have been driven by a wave of negative sentiment toward law enforcement. The group says that the FBI is involved in the recovery efforts.

“I believe the police should have corruption exposed as all other places should also have wrongdoing exposed when they are in a public office. However, the information should not be used to attack the police; it should be used to help them address their problems and correct them.”

The sentiment above, shared by Thomas White, a British security expert that calls himself Cthulhu online, appears to have been the driving force behind a data dump affecting the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

The leak—which the Guardian reports uncovered an array of messages critical of the Obama administration from the site’s online forum—has FOP working to figure out what happened, as well as how to limit the blowback from the “sophisticated” leak, which apparently involved 2.5 gigabytes of the organization’s data. The group says that the FBI is assisting them in investigating the incident.

How Much Data Was Stolen?

The amount of data taken is a point of contention: White claims he was anonymously given more than 18 terabytes of FOP data, most of which he’s yet to release. FOP denies it had that much data but isn’t taking any chances.

“They have however [breached] all of our records and therefore we have shut down access to our entire site,” National FOP President Chuck Canterbury said, according to a Facebook statement shared by the FOP’s Florida chapter. “We have engaged professionals to identify all the necessary steps we need to take to put our system back online and it may take several days.”

Perhaps the most controversial data acquired in the attack, according to the Guardian, was a series of contracts between law enforcement offices and local FOP groups. Critics of the group say that such contracts protect officers accused of aggressive police activity. FOP, however, denies that the contracts were hidden; Canterbury says that they are bargaining contracts that “are all available on the open web.”

While White denies that he was responsible for the hack, he has a recent history of assisting with wide-reaching data dumps. Motherboard reports that he helped the Italian company Hacking Team release data from hacks involving Ashley Madison and Patreon.

Associations Feel Pain of Hacks

In recent years, a wide variety of associations and other groups have been involved in hacking incidents. The 2014 Sony hack, for example, focused attention on the Motion Picture Association of America, in part because of the association’s initial lack of action, and Google used some of the hacked documents to criticize MPAA’s anti-piracy policy.

And last year, the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics was targeted in a data breach that affected an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 nonprofit organizations.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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