Syracuse Police and FBI collaborate on Anonymous hack

Jim Kenyon talks to iSchool professor Anthony Rotolo

Plenty of people are tweeting about how the Syracuse Police Department's public website had to be shut down after someone from a politically active group called Anonymous hacked into it.

At the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, Professor Anthony Rotolo and David Rosen can monitor all the activity on Twitter.

Professor Anthony Rotolo said, "On Twitter, the conversation is pretty active because whenever Anonymous makes a move, it tends to get the tech community going.â??

When you go to, a server default page will pop up. On Thursday, one or more people invaded the police department's site, and then bragged about it on another site called Operation Piggy Bank.

They wrote: â??We are anonymous... We are legion... We do not forgive... We do not forget... Expect us.â??

The hackers are apparently upset with the police department's handling of the Bernie Fine controversy and the conviction of former Auburn Police Officer Brian Hutchings.

It appears the hackers are associated with Anonymous, a shadowy international organization of what some might consider cyber terrorists.

Who could have attacked the Syracuse Police Department's website? When you're dealing with a group that calls itself Anonymous, it could be anyone, anywhere.

Professor Milton Mueller says anonymous has been around for years.

Professor Mueller says, "Basically, there's no organized structure, thereâ??s no defined leader, so in some ways it might be misleading to talk about Anonymous as if it were a coordinated organization doing things coherently."

Anonymous made headlines when it hacked into government websites last year. They said they were retaliating against the shutdown of Wikileaks after it published military secrets about the wars in Iran and Afghanistan. Professor Mueller says Anonymous is political, which makes the Syracuse attack puzzling.

Professor Mueller says, "Maybe this is just a gang or local group of people who are invoking Anonymous and they're really a bunch of hackers having some fun shutting people down.â??

Professor Mueller does not feel Anonymous is dangerous in the sense that its members would perform a terrorist attack, but he says they can create big problems through the internet, as the Syracuse Police Department has learned.

The Syracuse Police Department says they are working with the FBI to determine who exactly hacked the Syracuse Police Departmentâ??s public website on Thursday night.

Syracuse Police spokesman, Tom Connellan, says the Police Departmentâ??s internal website and all confidential information is secure.

Connellan says, "No internal records, no police reports or any type of sensitive information was compromised at all because it's a completely different system. We have internal servers and this is a website from the outside. The internal website is completely encrypted and has a lot of security on it.â??

Though the public website was shutdown yesterday, Connellan says there was no damage and they are in the process of making sure its secure with new passwords. Connellan says the department is working with the appropriate federal authorities to determine the people responsible for hacking the site.