Hackers have taken over the websites of several law enforcement agencies worldwide in attacks attributed to the collective called Anonymous, including in Boston and in Salt Lake City, where police say personal information of confidential informants and tipsters was accessed.
The Utah hackers gained access Tuesday to sensitive data, including citizen complaints about drug crimes, including phone numbers, addresses and other personal information, police said.
"We're still knee deep in trying to get a feel for the extent of the problem," Salt Lake City police Detective Dennis McGowan said Friday. The Salt Lake City website remained down Friday as the investigation continued, and police said criminal charges are being considered.
The group says it also attacked the website of the Alexandria, Va., law firm of Puckett & Faraj, which represented a U.S. Marine convicted in a 2005 attack in Iraq that resulted in the deaths of 24 unarmed civilians.
The attacks come after Anonymous published a recording of a phone call between the FBI and Scotland Yard early Wednesday, gloating in a Twitter message that "the FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now."
In Greece, the Justice Ministry took down its site Friday after a video by activists claiming to be Greek and Cypriot members of Anonymous was displayed for at least two hours.
In Boston, message posted on the police website Friday said, "Anonymous hacks Boston Police website in retaliation for police brutality at OWS," apparently a reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement. A police spokesman would not confirm Anonymous was responsible.
In a message posted on the Boston police department's website, the group said that the site had been attacked several months ago and that hundreds of passwords were released in retaliation for what they called brutality against Occupy Boston.
In October, Boston police acknowledged that various websites used by members of the police department -- including the website belonging to the police patrolmen's association -- had been hacked and possibly compromised. The department said it had asked all department personnel to change their passwords on the police department's network.
Police in Boston blamed the attack on Anonymous' opposition to an anti-graffiti paraphernalia bill that eventually failed in the state Senate. The bill would have made it illegal to possess any instrument, tool or device with the intent of vandalizing an area with graffiti.
Anonymous is a collection of Internet enthusiasts, pranksters and activists whose targets have included financial Visa and MasterCard, the Church of Scientology and law enforcement agencies.
Following a spate of arrests across the world, the group and its various offshoots have focused their attention on law enforcement agencies in general and the FBI in particular.