Anonymous Threat To Sacramento City Hall

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Video Transcript

Sam: Here at home, a group known as Anonymous claims that they’ve hacked a Sacramento City Hall computer system, and posted the addresses and phone number of city leaders online.

Christina: These computer hackers threatened to disrupt the city’s computer systems. They’re upset that the city prohibits homeless people from camping on certain public properties.

Sam: CBS 13’s Adrienne Moore joins us now with who was hacked and how many are affected here.

Adrienne: Sam and Christina, computer experts say that today’s posts should be taken very seriously and believe it is a sign of escalation, but city leaders maintain there doesn’t appear to be any type of breach and say the information that was put out on the Internet was all from public sources.

James: Anonymous is doing what Anonymous does.

Adrienne: James Clark shies away from any connections to the group, Anonymous. But it’s not stopping those claiming to be the computer hackers from posting personal information about Sacramento city leaders online.

Anonymous: City of Sacramento, we are the resistance.

Adrienne: In a series of videos, Anonymous has vowed to shut down government websites if the city doesn’t meet the demands of protesters. They want Sacramento to repeal it’s anti-camping ordinance. Now, a new post lays out everything from phone numbers to vehicle information for every single City Council member.

Andrea: Well, it’s hard to say where this information came from so there’s no really definitive way to say that they hacked into a city site.

Adrienne: Andrea Eldridge is the co-founder of Nerds on Call. She says these cyber threats should not be underestimated.

Andrea: If someone calls in saying that they’re from the IT department, and asks them for a username and password, city employees should be really aware that this threat is out there so that they’re more up-in-arms about protecting their own data

Adrienne: In 2014, Fort Lauderdale received a similar video and within 24 hours, this city’s website and the mayor’s website were disabled. Sacramento police are aware of the situation, and the city released a statement, saying, “According to an investigation of the post, the data was drawn from public sources and was mostly outdated. However, as always, we are continuing to extensively monitor all of our information systems.” With the credibility of the threats still unclear, James Clark plans to stay outside City Hall fighting for the rights of the homeless.

James: We want to make sure they’re not being criminalized while they wait for services to be applicable.

Adrienne: And experts say their best advice for city employees moving forward here is to use pass phrases instead of passwords for any of their online work. They say when you use a long phrase or a sentence, they say it becomes more difficult for hackers to get your information.

Christina: Good information. Adrienne Moore, live for us tonight in Sacramento.

Recently, the hacker activist group Anonymous released a public message to the city of Sacramento. The latest threat involves the group hacking into Sacramento City Hall’s online network and shut down city’s web based infrastructure. Does this group really pose a credible threat to our city?

Based on previous threat made my Anonymous, it is always a good idea to take a threat to internet security seriously. Due to our reliance on our online infrastructure, a ton of crucial and private data is stored and accessed online. Some ways that Anonymous could damage city activities are: by shutting down websites hosted by the city, or internal services that city employees utilize, using thousands of bots to send service request to a city website so that the volume will shut down the server. With a larger, more coordinated group of hackers, they could break into government databases to get information stored on city servers. This would be a bit more challenging for Anonymous since they would need to locate and exploit vulnerabilities within government servers.

What can the city do to defend itself? It is crucial that city employees employ strong password security. A work password should be different from everywhere else you login online. If employee usernames and passwords are posted online, those combinations would be used to try and gain access to other sites like bank, credit card, and email sites. If you are worries, consider changing your password now in case the information has already been compromised. The City should also ask their IT provider to patch holes in their server security. Older equipment should not be used because it is often running older software, which is more vulnerable to hacking due to a lack of patches. There should also be an alert sent out to employees to never give out any usernames, passwords, or login information to anyone, even if they are claiming to be from IT services.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.