HOUSTON -- The head of a Texas law enforcement group whose website was apparently taken over by the hacker group known as Anonymous said Friday that the association has taken the site down to evaluate its security.
Some police departments around the state that were also the targets of cyberattacks by Anonymous confirmed Friday the email accounts of some of their officials had been compromised, but said they believed their departmental servers had not.
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 Texas law enforcement officials, including police chiefs, whose personal or work email accounts the group said had been hacked.
James McLaughlin, the association's executive director, said the group took its website offline late Thursday night and didn't know when it would be back up. 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 said the agency is aware of the incident but doesn't confirm or deny investigations.
Investigator Joe Baeza, a spokesman for the Laredo Police Department in South Texas, confirmed the email account of Jesus Torres, an assistant chief of police, had been hacked. But technicians believe the police department's server wasn't compromised.
"Since we depend so greatly on technology, we are all susceptible to these types of breaches," Baeza said.
Officer Damon Ing, a spokesman for the Saginaw Police Department in suburban Fort Worth, said the work email of his agency's police chief had been hacked into. But he said the department's computer server wasn't compromised and the hackers didn't get any critical information.
"We're able to learn from such an attack. (Security procedures) will be re-evaluated. But it will not require a dramatic change of our security procedures. It's basically a non-threat for our department," he said.
Anonymous said it targeted Texas law enforcement officials, most of whom were from police departments in small cities or school district police agencies, 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.
Many of the pilfered email accounts contain documents detailing complaints against officers or other sensitive internal issues that might not be made public. Some of the police officials' personal information, such as Social Security numbers and passwords for various accounts, were posted online as well.
The group said the information it posted online also included lewd and racial jokes. A quick review of the large volume of data that Anonymous released Thursday appeared to confirm this.
Among those alleged to have been attacked was David Henley, the chief of police in the North Texas town of Northlake. A document headed "personnel investigation," purportedly from Henley's work email account, describes an officer's use of police computers to download or send material that's both racially offensive and pornographic.
Northlake Mayor Peter Dewing said an investigation is 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.
Ray Moseley, the police chief in Hamlin, a small town in west central Texas, said he had not been able to confirm Anonymous' claims that his email account had been hacked.
"I have turned it over to the FBI. I have taken precautions," he said. "There is nothing (in the account) that is going to be national security or something like that."
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.
Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle and Danny Robbins in Dallas contributed to this report.