State Capitol News
8:41 am
Thu June 30, 2011

Cyber Attack on Email Accounts of DPS Officers Not Affecting Those Within Agency Computers

Phoenix, AZ – Last week a group called LulzSec broke into the official e-mails the officers maintained on a DPS computer. Capt. Steve Harrison said the hackers apparently were able to piece together enough information from what they found there to then access personal e-mail systems. There, a group called AntiSec, which appears to be an offshoot of the dissolved LulzSec, said it found lots of personal stuff like online dating information, chat logs, social security numbers and seductive girlfriend pictures. Harrison said the data released could create identity theft problems for seven officers whose personal accounts were hacked.

(There's always that anxiety out there, what is the information being used for now and what will it be used for in the future. So there's some anxiety, unknowns out there that officers are going to have to change e-mail accounts, they're going to have to change phone numbers. It's an annoyance and it creates a lot of anxiety.)

Harrison said though it will be up to individual officers to monitor their credit since the information came from their own accounts. DPS did sweep the home of one officer after the leaked info resulted in a bomb threat. Nothing was found. AntiSec also said it found -- quote -- internal police reports, cops forwarding racist chain e-mails, K-9 drug unit cops who use percocets and a convicted sex offender who was part of FOP Maricopa Lodge Five. Harrison said DPS will review everything leaked, both to check if investigations or security were compromised as well as what the officers themselves reveal in their personal e-mails.

(You also have to understand that these are personal accounts. DPS employees still have the same rights as anybody else. They have the right to voice an opinion. But if they're talking about engaging in illegal activity, absolutely we will take a look at those and conduct internal and criminal investigations if it warrants.)

Harrison acknowledged that, absent the AntiSec action, DPS would not have had access to the officers' personal accounts except through a court-ordered search warrant. He sidestepped an inquiry over whether the illegal actions of AntiSec in exposing the contents of those accounts now gives DPS the power to use what was there.

(That would be a legal question that would probably be a long time to be answered. But the fact that that information is already out there, now is in the public domain, probably will limit the expectation of privacy, as opposed to DPS going into their e-mail accounts personally and looking at that.)

Harrison said, though, he doubts anything that was leaked will cause any concern about criminal conduct by employees. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.