'Anonymous' attack would flood APD servers, cripple site

Updated: 03/27/2014 12:06 AM | Created: 03/26/2014 10:21 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

"Anonymous, grab your cannons and point them at Albuquerque police websites."

It's a battle cry Albuquerque officials are calling a serious threat.

The international group of hackers called Anonymous is infamous for infiltrating government agencies through cyber attacks, and now they have their sights set on APD.

City officials said Wednesday all online city systems could be vulnerable, including those used to run law enforcement activities.

"Greetings city of Albuquerque, we are Anonymous."

The foreboding message surfaced online Wednesday morning, posted by members of the group Anonymous in response to an APD shooting that killed homeless camper James Boyd on March 16.

"This particular organization has a fairly robust history of success," said Albuquerque chief administrative officer Rob Perry.

The so-called "hacktivists" of Anonymous have successfully breached systems at the United States Federal Reserve, and even the Vatican.

Visualize a flash mob inside a shopping mall.

That's how Anonymous attacks websites -- by flooding them with traffic to cripple normal operations. Think of the APD website as a shopping mall, and Anonymous as a flash mob taking over.

Business as usual comes to a halt.

"The website would be rendered useless because it can't keep up with the amount of traffic that's coming at it," said Albuquerque chief information officer Peter Ambs. "That's really the intent of this perceived threat."

The group's latest video calls for members around the world to occupy APD's headquarters and website on Sunday, March 30th.

The intent is to send a message after APD shot and killed Boyd in the Albuquerque foothills -- a shooting that's drawn widespread criticism, including comments from Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry who called the shooting, "horrific."

Now city officials say they're bracing the city's cyber structure as Anonymous takes aim at APD.

KOB asked Ambs and Perry if any sort of confidential, or otherwise sensitive information could be compromised in case of an attack.

"Sure, well the city has a very, very robust and expanded and functional computer system, so we have to look at this from multiple levels and try to insure that our web, our information, and all of our particular modules are protected from this," said Perry.

Experts tell us these types of attacks are impossible to combat once they're underway.

Officials acknowledged that Wednesday.

"If it happens we will wait out the storm so to speak," said Ambs.

We asked whether a cyber attack on the city's servers could affect the Real Time Crime Center which handles calls between officers and supervisors.

The city said that's a possibility, but it would be no less vulnerable than other city systems.

Perry said they are taking the threat seriously and working with multiple agencies, including federal law enforcement to guard against a possible attack by the group.

"We've contacted federal law enforcement agencies with expertise in cyber crimes," said Perry. "We've contacted individuals that we work with and are well known in the cyber breach security world."

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