LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP/KMOX) — An online attack against dozens of rural American law enforcement agencies in which emails, credit card numbers and crime tips were stolen and posted on the Internet has left some officials wondering how they can ward off future hacking attempts, if at all.  The breach of security reportedly has impacted some seven thousand people.

The attack by the hackers’ collective Anonymous on agencies in five states __ Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi.  At least ten law enforcement agencies in Missouri were reportedly hacked, all in rural areas of the state.

One of the sites was the Missouri Sheriff’s Association.  That website is currently down but reports say that hackers were able to get the personal information of law enforcement personnel.  

The group responsible,  Anonymous commented via Twitter, “Word is that we are sitting on more sensitive data than we can ever upload. Just a matter of selection now. Arrest us. We dare you.”

The attack was likely so broad in scope because many sites were hosted by the same company, Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing, of Mountain Home, Ark. But the theft exposed a “dirty little secret” about hacking __ the best hackers can beat the tools meant to stop them and many potential victims don’t know it, said Anup Ghosh, the co-founder and CEO of the software security company Invincea.

“Everyone is getting compromised. You either know it or you don’t,” Ghosh said Monday.

Most of the technology meant to prevent hacking was developed in the mid- to late-1990s, yet hackers have continued to develop their trade, Ghosh said. “The guys writing the attack codes have evolved their technologies considerably,” he said.

What has changed is that “hacktivists” such as Anonymous want the world to know about their crimes, breaches that were once kept quiet or that went unnoticed by hacking targets are now being trumpeted. “The hacktivists benefit by making public the fact that they’ve compromised those networks and they’re putting the data out there essentially to embarrass those organizations and cause harm,” Ghosh said.

After posting the stolen law enforcement data online on Saturday, Anonymous members taunted local sheriffs on Twitter and the group’s website, saying they wanted to embarrass and discredit law enforcement after a series of F.B.I arrests in early July targeting alleged members of the group.

Copyright The Associated Press/KMOX


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