Anonymous’ Cyber Attack Hits Atlanta Police Website After Rayshard Brooks Shot Dead by Officers

News and Analysis

The hacktivist group Anonymous has claimed responsibility for taking down the Atlanta Police Department’s (PD) website, on June 14. The move came in response to the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was killed by the police on Friday, June 12.

The shooting of Brooks happened after he had fallen asleep in his car in a restaurant’s drive-through blocking the lane and the restaurant’ employee called the police. When the police came and tried to arrest Brooks, the exchange between Brooks and a police officer escalated. Brooks was shot in an attempt to run away.

The hacktivists announced their action in a tweet, specifically saying:

“Expect Us”

Cyber attacks on police departments across the United States began after Anonymous threatened the Minneapolis PD to “expose your many crimes to the world,” in a video published on May 25. Anonymous’ actions against the police would come in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The group said that it was responding to the blatant unaccountability of the police officers who keep using excessive force on the streets. The message specifically mentioned that two officers directly involved in the tragedy had a track record of suspected power abuse.

“Sadly, in the vast majority of police killings, the only one left alive to tell the story is the officer who took the person’s life, and thus the cycle is able to continue because none of these murderers ever face any justice for their actions,” it was said in the video.

Just a few days after the threat, the website for the Minneapolis police department and the city’s official page suffered a cyberattack with subsequent service disruptions continuing through the night.

Doubts Around Anonymous’ Involvement in Minneapolis PD Breach

Nevertheless, some cast doubts on Anonymous’ involvement in the attack on the Minneapolis PD. Troy Hunt at the Have I Been Pwned (HIBP) project claimed that the fact “Anonymous leaked the email addresses and passwords of the Minneapolis Police” is almost certainly fake.

Hunt dug into 798 email addresses in the data set, wherein only 689 were unique and 87 of the addresses appear multiple times. “[…] it’s extremely unusual to see the same email address with multiple different passwords in a legitimate data breach as most systems simply won’t let an address register more than once,” he further said.

“Of the 689 unique email addresses, 654 of them are already in Have I Been Pwned. That’s a hit rate of 95% which is massively higher than any all-new legitimate breach. If you have a browse through the HIBP Twitter account, you’ll see the percentage of previously breached accounts next to each tweet and it’s typically in the 60% to 80% range for services based in the US,” the analysis showed.

Hunt concluded urging others not to spread disinformation and pointing out that the alleged Minneapolis Police Department “breach” was fake.

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