Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Hackers Listened as Police Talked

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Hackers Listened as Police Talked

Article excerpt

The group known as Anonymous listened in on a call between the F.B.I., Scotland Yard and other foreign police agencies about their joint investigation of the group and its allies.

An international hackers' group called Anonymous turned the tables on Scotland Yard and the F.B.I. by listening in on a conference call last month between them and other European police agencies about their joint investigation of the group and its allies.

Anonymous posted a 16-minute recording of the conference call on the Web Friday and crowed about the episode via Twitter: "The FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now."

An F.B.I. official said Anonymous had not in fact hacked into the conference call or any other bureau facilities. Instead, the official said, the group had obtained an e-mail giving the time, telephone number and access code for the call. The e-mail had been sent on Jan. 13 to more than three dozen people at the bureau, Scotland Yard, and agencies in France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

One of the recipients evidently forwarded the notification to a private account, he said, and it was then intercepted by Anonymous.

"It's not really that sophisticated," said the official, who would discuss the episode only on condition of anonymity. He said no F.B.I. system was compromised but noted that communications security was more challenging when agencies in multiple countries were involved.

"We're always looking at ways to make our communications more secure, and obviously we'll be taking a look at what happened here," he said.

The bureau issued a brief statement confirming the intrusion, which was first reported by The Associated Press: "The information was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained. A criminal investigation is under way to identify and hold accountable those responsible."

The breach, clearly an embarrassment for investigators, is the latest chapter in a continuing war of words and contest of technology between hacking groups and their perceived opponents in law enforcement and the corporate world. …

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