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Hacktivist claim: We took down city website because of police violence

A video was posted YouTube claiming credit for cyberattack City Chicago website. The video was later taken from public view.

A video was posted on YouTube claiming credit for a cyberattack on the City of Chicago website. The video was later taken from public view.

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Updated: August 6, 2012 12:47PM



When the NATO Summit in Chicago was still on the horizon, a group of self-proclaimed “hacktivists” was gearing up.

A member of AntiS3curityOPS, which has taken credit for taking the City of Chicago’s website offline on Sunday, said in an interview on Tuesday it had been prepared for weeks to launch a cyber attack during the NATO meetings — but did so only after protesters reported violent tactics by the Chicago Police Department.

“Like the police we plan for any outcome, we were ready to stand down had they not committed violence,” a member of the group said in an interview via electronic message. The group associates itself with an activist hacking group known as Anonymous, but says it focuses on “police accountability and corruption at all levels of government.

“We had this planned for weeks and we also had a lot of help from other Anon’s as well,” the member said.

The group said it saw violence from police at 8 p.m. Saturday and launched a cyber attack by 9 p.m. that night.

“We are peaceful Hacktivists. We do only harm to those causing harm and hurting innocent people and the corrupt. We act when it’s justified. … No credit card info or phone numbers were at any risk. The public is in no way in danger because of us,” said the unidentified individual who responded to questions sent electronically to AntiS3curityOPS by the Sun-Times.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has said his officers showed tremendous restraint with protesters and used force only as a last recourse.

City officials have not said whether they believe AntiS3curityOPS was responsible for the site going offline.

“At this time, we have no reason to believe any data was stolen from the City’s website or systems,” a city spokesperson said. “The City of Chicago continues to work with appropriate federal authorities to investigate the temporary interruption of access to the City’s website.”

The site appeared to be down several hours Sunday morning.

Because of the NATO component, the U.S. Secret Service immediately became involved in the probe as well as the Chicago Police Department and the FBI’s top Cyber squad, according to law enforcement sources. For its part, law enforcement sources said they were expecting some level of cyber attack over the NATO Summit.

The representative of AntiS3curityOPS would not say if there was a “data breach” but did refer to the incident as a “DDOS,” which stands for Distributed Denial of Service.

Such an attack can temporarily disable a website by flooding it with communications beyond its capacity, said Michael DuBose, a managing director with Kroll who has expertise in cyber investigations.

“These types of attacks are disruptive and often quite costly to the victim organization, but they do not penetrate the website’s database or any other part of the company’s network where personally identifiable information of proprietary information may be stored,” he said.

The group claimed it took offline the Chicago Police Department’s Web site several times over the weekend as well but “we did not access anything” on it.

As for the pending investigation, the member said, “If we we’re [SIC] afraid of trouble, we would not be doing what we do.”

A general Tweet sent out on Tuesday indicated the group has shifted its priority.

“Our campaign against the Manchester, New Hampshire Police Dept. we postponed due to our attacks on NATO and Chicago Police this past 4 days. However, this week we will be reengaging. We didnt forget about you Manchester ♥.”



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