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Texas Police Website Shuts Down After Apparent Hacking

TEXAS (AP) - The head of a Texas law enforcement group whose website was apparently taken over by hackers said Friday that the association has taken the site down to evaluate its security.

The group known as Anonymous appeared to take over the website address of the Texas Police Chiefs Association on Thursday, replacing its home page with one listing more than two dozen law enforcement officials whose personal or work email accounts Anonymous said had been hacked.

James McLaughlin, the association's executive director, said the group took its website offline late Thursday night. He said some of those listed were association members and others weren't. He said their website is password protected for members, but even then only lists names and contact information.

"Technology is great. We just keep doing more and more good things with it and like anything else, more and more bad things come along," said McLaughlin, who said the association had contacted the FBI.

FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap says the agency is aware of the incident but doesn't confirm or deny investigations.

McLaughlin, who said he did not know when the site would be back up, points out some police documents are available through open records requests.

"If you're getting into somebody's personal emails, you're stealing from them. If its department stuff that's public record, there are ways to get into that," he said.

Anonymous said it targeted Texas law enforcement officials in retaliation for arrests of its supporters and what it sees as harassment of immigrants by authorities in the state.

Dozens of arrests linked to the loose-knit international hacking collective have been made in recent weeks, including a cross-country FBI sting earlier this summer in which 14 alleged cybercriminals were arrested. The claims about the hacking in Texas came as police in Britain arrested two men as part of a trans-Atlantic investigation into attacks carried out by Anonymous and Lulz Security, which is a spinoff of Anonymous.

Anonymous said the data it posted Thursday came from the work and personal email accounts of law enforcement authorities, including police chiefs. Most of the Texas law enforcement agencies that Anonymous claimed it had hacked into were police departments in small Texas cities or school district police agencies.

Among those alleged to have been attacked was the chief of police in the North Texas town of Northlake. Mayor Peter Dewing said there's an investigation going on into the alleged hacking and he couldn't comment on that, but did add that he believed such hackers were "cowards."

"I personally believe they're not doing it for any good, but for self-gratification," he said.

About 10 of the email accounts the group said it breached were personal accounts for law enforcement officials. Some of the individuals' personal information, such as Social Security numbers and passwords for various accounts, were posted online as well.

Some of the email accounts belonged to individuals who were retired from law enforcement.

The group said the information it posted online included classified police documents as well as lewd and racial jokes. A quick review of the large volume of data that Anonymous released Thursday revealed some of these things.

Last month, Anonymous claimed it hacked into some 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites, mainly from sheriffs' offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi.

Anonymous also has claimed responsibility for attacking companies such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, as well as the music industry and the Church of Scientology.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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