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 George Floyd’s death.

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

Authorities have not released details of how the interference was carried out or who is responsible for the hacking efforts, but federal intelligence officials warned that such threats could persist during the protests.

“Short-term disruptive cyber-activity related to protests is likely to continue – several actors could conduct these operations – with the potential to use more impactful capabilities, such as ransomware, or target higher-profile networks,” said an intelligence study from the Department of Homeland Security that was last week obtained by the Associated Press.

The review found that on May 31, when protests were going on in Dallas, police unencrypted radio frequency was violated and “unknown actors” were playing music over police radios. Chicago Police’s unencrypted radio frequencies were similarly compromised during protests in the city on May 30. Neither the Dallas Police nor Chicago have made comments regarding access to the radio frequencies.

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 collide with rioters and protesters following the death of George Floyd.

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

Riots and 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 been killed by police in recent years.