Hacktivists have disrupted dozens of US police websites and leaked the personal details of up to 2,000 officers, apparently in protest at the treatment meted out to supporters of the 'Occupy' protest movement.
In a message posted to Pastebin on Friday, a group claiming to represent Anonymous said it had attacked websites in Massachusetts and Alabama, including the Boston Police Patrolmens' Association, International Chiefs of Police (IACP), sites run by forces in Birmingham and Jefferson counties in Alabama, and a web company called the Matrix Group which manages the sites.
In addition to web defacement, the raid netted the attackers 600MB of data from the IACP, including the names and passwords for 1,000 Boston police staff, and the names, addresses, ranks, social security numbers, and phone numbers for another 1,000 officers in Alabama.
The contact database for the Matrix Group was also stolen, with all three data sets being leaked on the Pastebin site, a potentially serious breach given the nature of police work.
"Let this be a warning to BPD and police everywhere: future acts of aggression against our movements will be met with a vengeance," read a statement by the attackers which complained of arrests of 'Occupy' campaigners during a protest in Boston.
"We have no problem targeting police and releasing their information even if it puts them at risk because we want them to experience just a taste of the brutality and misery they serve us on an everyday basis."
An individual with a southern English accent claiming to represent the attackers later uploaded to YouTube the recording of a Skype call made to the Sherriff's office in Baldwin, Alabama, claiming to be behind the attack.
The call is being connected to the attack but this is speculative. The individual refers to the fact that he decided to use Skype because calling with a cellphone would be too expensive, before claiming he carried out the attack because he was "bored," hardly the justification of a hardcore anti-sec.
With its signature masks inspired by 16th century English Catholic radical Guy Fawkes, Anonymous now seems to exist a a very loose brand under which a range of activists launch attacks according to personal interests. A growing list of alleged members of this and other similar groups have been arrested in recent months.
The anti-capitalist Occupy movement has held sit-down protests in a number of cities, including New York, LA, Boston and London in the last two weeks.