Authorities Investigating Possible Hacks of Police Radio, Websites During Protests

(Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

Authorities are reportedly investigating hacking efforts that disrupted police radio communications as well as law enforcement networks and websites in several cities during the recent protests against the death of George Floyd.

Hackers interfered with police radios and attempted to take down websites used by law enforcement in Minnesota, Illinois, and Texas, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities have not released details about how the interference was conducted or who might be responsible for the hacking efforts, but federal intelligence officials warned that such threats may continue during the protests.

“Short-term disruptive cyber activities related to protests probably will continue — various actors could be carrying out these operations — with the potential to use more impactful capabilities, like ransomware, or target higher profile networks,” read a Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment last week that was obtained by the Associated Press.

The assessment said that on May 31 as protests were underway in Dallas, the police department’s unencrypted radio frequency was breached and “unknown actors” played music over police radios. Chicago police’s unencrypted radio frequencies were similarly compromised during protests in the city on May 30. Neither Dallas nor Chicago police have commented on how the radio frequencies were accessed.

Another unclassified Homeland Security intelligence report warned that the personal information of high-ranking police officers from cities across the country is being leaked online as police forces clash with rioters and protesters in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

The home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of several senior police officials in cities including Washington, Atlanta, Boston, and New York have been published online, the report said.

Riots as well as peaceful protests have occurred in metropolitan areas across the country since Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, during which time he passed out. His death sparked calls for police reform and evoked memories of other African Americans who have died at the hands of police in recent years.

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