- The Washington Times - Friday, January 29, 2016

The nation’s largest police union said on Thursday that it’s asked the FBI to investigate a computer breach that allowed hackers to steal hundreds of internal documents that have since been published online.

Chuck Canterbury, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said in a statement posted on Facebook that hackers managed “a complete breech [sic] of our data,” taking hundreds of megabytes worth of bargaining contracts and other records.

“We have contacted the office of the assistant attorney general in charge of cyber crime, and officials from FBI field offices have already made contact with our staff,” Mr. Canterbury told The Guardian. Federal investigators did not immediately respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.

The website for the FOP, which represents roughly 330,000 police officers across the U.S., was still offline the following afternoon. Mr. Canterbury said in a statement that it could take several days for the site to be fully restored.

The stolen data has since resurfaced online, however, and is now being hosted on the server of a British technology and privacy activist who uses the alias “TheCthulhu.”

On the activist’s personal website, he said they had released the data “on the grounds the information is within the scope of public interest, in light of an ever increasing [sic] divide between the police groups and the citizens of the U.S.”

“My role in this is to ensure the information is accessible to all so that a proper analysis may be done by both established media outlets and individual investigators who wish to expose any wrongdoing,” he added.

Following a preliminary review of the stolen data, The Guardian described the 2.5 gigabyte trove on Thursday as containing bargaining contracts as well as the personal information of police officers, along with archived posts from a members-only forum that had been hosted by the police union.

“Some names and addresses were taken,” Mr. Canterbury told the paper. “It concerns us. We’re taking steps to try to notify our members, but that is going to take some time.”

In a statement, the union president said the hacktivist group Anonymous was to blame for the breach, and said the initial intrusion had been traced to a computer in the U.K. He failed to elaborate further on the alleged Anonymous attribution, however, and the activist who is hosting the data has made no claims to suggest the involvement of the amorphous Internet movement.

“Our professional Computer experts have identified how the hackers made access but that information cannot be distributed at this time for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that the level of sophistication was very high,” Mr. Canterbury said in the statement.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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