Notorious hacker group Anonymous appears to have returned in support of protests that erupted last week following the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of white Minneapolis police officers.
In a video posted on Facebook – which has since been removed – Anonymous warns the Minneapolis police department that “the people have had enough”.
“In the most recent case of George Floyd, the blatant disregard for human life exhibited by the officers is undeniable, and all evidence that has been released so far has shown that Floyd was being entirely compliant with the officers, which contradict earlier claims from police that he was resisting arrest,” the masked figure in the video says.
“Furthermore, our initial investigation of the offending officers has revealed a criminal pattern of violence on the job.”
That “initial investigation” appears to involve reading an article in Minnesota’s Star Tribune from last week which outlines previous acts of violence by two of the officers at the centre of the George Floyd killing.
Complete with dramatic music and a hooded figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask who speaks with a deep, modulated voice, the video is reminiscent of the supposedly dormant hacktivist group’s heyday.
But by the time it had gone online on Sunday, Anonymous’ video was already out of date.
Two days prior to Anonymous saying “we do not trust your corrupt organisation to carry out justice”, protesters in Minneapolis torched the police precinct where the officers who caused Floyd’s death worked, and tense protests had broken out throughout the United States.
Anonymous also said Derek Chauvin, the man who knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes leading to his death, “should face murder charges” – even though he had been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter by the time the video went live.
Have they done anything?
The website resurfaced again hours later but with an added step of human verification to help stop an Anonymous-led botnet overflowing the site with network requests.
Anonymous was also given credit for a Chicago police scanner that appears to have been hacked and was playing parts of the NWA song ‘Fuck the Police’.
There is no evidence Anonymous was involved in the disrupted police scanner.
As the excitement of Anonymous joining the civil unrest continued, a cache of supposed Minneapolis Police email addresses and passwords was shared on Paste Bin.
But cybersecurity researcher Troy Hunt – creator of the website Have I Been Pwnd – was immediately skeptical of the supposed leaks, saying they were mostly likely a result of cherry-picking previous data breaches, rather than the sign of a successful Anonymous hacking attempt.
“Each of the random addresses I picked out appears in Have I Been Pwned, usually against credential stuffing lists which have email address and plain text pairs. In other words, this is data that’s already out there in other breaches, at least the email addresses are.
“The passwords are consistently woeful and are often all lowercase, numeric or other patterns that would almost certainly be rejected by any official [Minneapolis Police Department] system.
“They’re simple passwords, most likely cracked from other breaches.”