Reporting Bob Melrose
OAKLAND (CBS 5 / KCBS) — Computer hackers on Wednesday again targeted the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, which came under fire recently for turning off cellphone and wireless service in a few of its underground downtown San Francisco stations to thwart a potential protest over a police shooting.
This time, the hackers group called “Anonymous” gained access to a BART police union website and posted personal information on more than 100 officers. Last week, the same group of hackers broke into BART’s marketing website – MyBart.org – and released personal information on more than 2,400 customers.
KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:
BART Deputy Police Chief Ben Fairow told KCBS radio that the agency was deeply disturbed by the latest attack and condemned it because the data breach could jeopardize the safety of officers’ family members.
“We roundly condemn it. It’s just putting more people in jeopardy,” he said. “Their personal information is out there. BART police officers are used to working in a dangerous environment. What they’re not used to is having their families put in jeopardy.”
Fairow added that he also thought the cyber attacks were being carried out “in a cowardly manner.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is already investigating the hack attack on the MyBART.org website and was now expanding its probe to include the breach of the police union’s website.
The hackers group ‘Anonymous’ has suggested in online postings that the two hacks came in retaliation to BART’s cutting wireless communication, which successfully quelled a brewing protest over the July 3 BART police shooting and killing of 45-year-old Charles Blair Hill. Officers allege the transient lunged at them with a knife.
BART’s action was widely believed to be the first time a governmental agency in the U.S. cut wireless communication to stop a protest and it ignited a national debate over free speech rights.
BART’s chief communications officer Linton Johnson has told the Associated Press that it was his idea to cut the power to the underground wireless and cellphone system that is owned and operated by BART. He defended the tactic as legal and appropriate to ensure a safe commute. A CBS 5 poll has found a majority of Bay Area residents agree with Johnson’s position.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All rights Reserved.)