NM city still reeling from anti-police cyberattack

The city of Albuquerque was still working Wednesday to recover from the "Anonymous" cyberattack launched over the weekend as part of a police protest

By Dan McKay
Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Albuquerque was still working Wednesday to recover from the "Anonymous" cyberattack launched over the weekend as part of a police protest.

The city's website for accepting online payments  including payments for parking tickets  remained down, and there were delays in payments to vendors earlier in the week.

"There was significant disruption," Albuquerque's chief administrative officer, Rob Perry, said Wednesday in an interview.

City employees say they have been directed to change their passwords and turn off computers at night. Employees' access to internal information has also been restricted to varying degrees this week -- from looking at maps to reviewing how much vacation time they have left. Some of the information had been restored by Wednesday.

Top city executives aren't saying much beyond that they're trying to determine the cost of defending against the attack.

They won't comment on whether outside consultants have been hired.

"We are in the process of collecting all costs due to the attack," said Peter Ambs, Albuquerque's chief information officer. "Due to security issues, the remaining question (about outside consultants) cannot be answered."

But it's clear Anonymous is a formidable power. City executives have said repeatedly over the last week that they take the attack seriously and that Anonymous has a "100 percent" success rate.

Anonymous is a loose network of hackers and activists. It has previously targeted the United States and Tunisian governments, the Westboro Baptist Church and the Church of Scientology

The group called for Sunday's protest at APD headquarters, which lasted 12 hours as marchers paraded up to the University of New Mexico and back Downtown. Police twice deployed tear gas to break up the crowd, and there were a handful of arrests.

The city website also was disrupted over the weekend, though the city has offered few details about the damage. The protest and cyberattack came after APD officers shot and killed a mentally ill homeless man, James Boyd, last month.

Police responded to a call that Boyd was illegally camping in the foothills, resulting in an hours-long standoff. As Boyd appeared to be surrendering, police deployed a flash bang and he was shot as he turned away from officers. Video of the incident has sparked outrage across the country.

Anonymous released a video calling APD officers "militarized thugs."

Ambs said he expected the city's site for online payments to be up by the end of the week. The city has worked hard to minimize the disruption to the public, he said.

Some vendors faced delays of about three days in receiving city payments, he said.

Also on Sunday, a Twitter feed purporting to be associated with Anonymous tweeted a link to a list of dozens of APD officers' phone numbers and positions in the department. A department spokeswoman said she couldn't say whether the numbers were authentic.

On Saturday, another such Twitter page released a list of home address and phone numbers for department brass, including Police Chief Gorden Eden and the department's three deputy chiefs. That information, however, was largely inaccurate and appeared to have been pulled from public databases.

Copyright 2014 the Albuquerque Journal

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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