‘Anonymous’ takes credit for hacking the Minneapolis Police website and promises to expose the department’s ‘horrific track record of violence’

  • Anonymous claims to have hacked the Minneapolis Police Department website
  • The collective circulated a list of leaked emails and passwords on social media
  • Cybersecurity experts doubt the veracity of the hack and say the emails were likely sourced from previous data breaches in 2019

The hacker group Anonymous has claimed credit for infiltrating the Minneapolis Police Department website and accessing a wide range of information about its officers.

In a video posted on Anonymous’s unconfirmed Facebook page and circulated widely across Twitter, a representative from the collective accused the department of having a ‘horrific track record of violence and corruption’ and promised to begin ‘exposing your many crimes to the world.’

The announcement came after several extended periods during which the MPD website appeared inaccessible, something that was consistent its servers being overwhelmed by a mass denial of service attack which Anonymous has used in the past.

The hacker collective Anonymous has taken credit for hacking the Minneapolis Police Department website and circulated a list of emails and passwords purportedly taken from the department's private servers

The hacker collective Anonymous has taken credit for hacking the Minneapolis Police Department website and circulated a list of emails and passwords purportedly taken from the department’s private servers

A list purporting to show the email and password logins of MPD officers was also widely circulated and credited back to Anonymous, according to a report in Time, suggesting that the group had access to the department’s internal communications and police files.

However cybersecurity researcher Troy Hunt reviewed the supposedly hacked documents and cautioned that they were ‘almost certainly fake.’

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According to Hunt, of the 689 listed emails, 654 had been previously published and catalogued on the site ‘HaveIBeenPwned,’ a database that collects publicly compromised or exposed email accounts.

‘These may well be legitimate MPD email addresses and the passwords may well have been used along with those email addresses on other systems, but they almost certainly didn’t come from an MPD system and aren’t the result of the police department being “hacked,”‘ Hunt wrote in his website

Hunt traced the majority of the previously exposed emails to a 2019 data breach at People Data Labs, an online user data platform that left more than 600 million emails exposed in 2019, as part of a larger Google Cloud breach.

Cybersecurity expert Troy Hunt analyzed the emails and passwords and argued it was more likely the emails were taken from several earlier data breaches in 2019 involving Google Cloud, Evite, LinkedIn and more

Cybersecurity expert Troy Hunt analyzed the emails and passwords and argued it was more likely the emails were taken from several earlier data breaches in 2019 involving Google Cloud, Evite, LinkedIn and more

Many of the other emails were also linked back to past data breaches that occurred through LinkedIn, Evite, and more.

According to Hunt, many of listed passwords attached to the email accounts used inconsistent security protocols like special symbols, numerals, and capital letters making it unlikely they were from the same system.

Hunt compared the passwords to a database of previously exposed passwords and found several had been seen in more than two million past breaches, and one password in the files, ‘123456,’ had been previously connected to more than 23.5 million past breaches.

According to Hunt, the news had circulated so quickly not because it was believable but because people wanted it to be true.

‘[T]his is getting traction because emotions are high,’ Hunt wrote, ‘public outrage is driving a desire for this to be true, even if it’s not. ‘

‘Hash-tagging it “Anonymous” implies social justice, even if the whole thing is a hoax.’



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