FRESNO, CA – One of California’s biggest law enforcement groups got hit by a high profile hack, and several Valley victims are among those left exposed.
The group Anonymous is taking credit for the hack attack on the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association. Anonymous is known as a group of Internet vigilantes — fighting white supremacists, internet porn peddlers, and especially anyone they perceive as infringing on freedom of speech.
Victims of the group’s latest attack say they’re shocked to find out how they became targets.
Online shopping has never appealed to Keri Watkins.
The Fresno resident avoids Internet purchases to keep her private information private.
But when she wanted to buy her husband some clothing from his police union, she had to order online, on the website for the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.
“That was the last place I thought my credit card information, my house information, would be taken,” she said.
The union’s website and 18 others it hosted are all nothing but blank pages now.
The hacker group Anonymous infiltrated the sites over the last two months and on New Year’s Day, it released its results for all the world to see.
In the middle of this jumble of more than 2500 names, addresses, and passwords is Watkins’ credit card information. “The fact that it’s on the web and then everybody sees my information and everybody has that, that’s tough,” she said. “I don’t like that at all. That scares me.”
Anonymous posted an explanation for its hack, saying “California police have a notorious history of brutality and therefore have been on our hit list for a good minute now.”
The statewide union’s president called the hackers a group of “criminal terrorists.”
Union reps for Fresno sheriff’s deputies and Fresno police say they’ve double checked their web security.
Neither of them allows online purchases, so they believe they’re not as vulnerable.
Watkins says she was lucky because all her personal information is now out of date, including that credit card number. But she’s still concerned about the violation of her privacy.
“I don’t like people knowing where I live, where my family lives, because we all known that could lead to greater problems,” she said.
Watkins and her husband have now gotten their bank to run extra checks on any credit card usage.
They’ve prevented any identity theft, but it also ruined a birthday surprise when the bank called Keri about some purchases her husband made.
At least five other Valley residents were victimized by the hack.