The hackers known as LulzSec, who have recently brought down websites for the CIA and US Senate with the panache of merry pranksters, selected a new target Thursday night, and in the process offered a glimpse into the mysterious group’s possible motivations.
In breaking into computers belonging to the Arizona Department of Public Safety and releasing internal documents detailing law-enforcement activity in the state, LulzSec seemed to leave no doubt about why Arizona was on its hit list.
“We are targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona,” the group said in a statement, referring to the controversial Arizona law, currently under legal review, that forces police officers to ask for immigration papers of people they think might be illegal immigrants.
Such overt politics marked a sharp departure from the past for Lulz Security Group, which has gained renown in the hacker world for its devil-may-care attitude toward high-profile targets.
On its website, the group has so far posted thousands of e-mails and other electronic files the group claims belong to nearly a dozen business and government sites including Sony, PBS, Fox, and InfraGard, a public-private partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It has also taken credit this month for defacing or temporarily blocking access to public websites belonging to the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Senate
Along the way, it has had some fun. Sporting a Viking ship logo it calls “The Lulz Boat,” a theme song, and the tag line, “Laughing at your security since 2011!” the group claims to be altruistically raising security awareness and doing what it does “for the laughs.” The term “Lulz” is hacker lingo for “laughs.”
Even before Thursday, however, there had been indications of possible political overtones in LulzSec’s stated motivations, experts who study the groups say. LulzSec now claims to be allied with a larger Internet group, dubbed Anonymous, that has attacked websites of groups it deems to have curbed Internet or political freedom, including MasterCard, Visa, and Paypal. Anonymous has also attacked Middle Eastern government sites in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in support of the “Arab Spring” uprisings.
The Arizona hack further delineates LulzSec’s philosophical justifications. The unveiling of hacked documents from Arizona law enforcement was part of what the group calls its new “Operation Anti-Security.” The intent is to embarrass law-enforcement agencies and private-security contractors by exposing the lack of security on their websites and computer systems.
Arizona documents on the hacker site are described by LulzSec as dealing with “border patrol and counter-terrorism operations and describe the use of informants to infiltrate various gangs, cartels, motorcycle clubs, Nazi groups, and protest movements.” A number of documents are marked as “law enforcement sensitive,” “not for public distribution,” and “for official use only.”
Though many of the documents are mundane, some include candid comments about operations and relations with Mexican authorities on anti-drug operations. Arizona Department of Public Safety Spokesman Capt. Steve Harrison acknowledged the intrusion and said the documents posted online appear genuine.
“At this point, it appears to be the e-mail accounts of seven officers and documents that were attachments or on the hard drive of a computer they all used to access e-mail,” he said. “There will be an investigation into what happened and who did this and appropriate criminal charges will be filed.”