The city of Albuquerque was bracing for a potential cyberattack Saturday by an Internet “hacktivist” group that targeted the police department in response to the March 16 fatal police shooting of James M. Boyd in the Sandia foothills.
But the city’s chief information officer said there was only a “brief, temporary disruption” to the city’s website Saturday night.
“We can’t confirm the cause of the interruption,” said CIO Peter Ambs in an emailed statement.
A city spokeswoman said Saturday morning that officials expected the brunt of the attack to come around 9 p.m. Around that time, Twitter user Anonyinfo tweeted that the “operation” had “changed its course. Anonymous will be engaging in an information war against the APD.”
The Albuquerque Police Department took down its Facebook and Twitter pages in the meantime. The removal of those pages prompted some taunting from a Twitter page purporting to represent “Anonymous,” the loosely organized Internet group calling for the cyberattack.
“We aren’t sure if Albuquerque PD understands what a ddos attack is,” wrote Twitter user Anonymous Operations. “Come on let’s be serious here, they deactivated their FB and Twitter.”
A DDOS attack, or a “distributed denial of service attack,” relies on as many users as the group can muster to flood a targeted website, resulting in the website’s inaccessibility and possibly other consequences. In another tweet shared by Anonymous Operations, a user hinted that the attack might not stop just at a DDOS attack.
The city spokeswoman did not go into detail about what “proactive” steps officials were taking to anticipate such an attack. This week, the city’s chief administrative officer Rob Perry said the threat was very serious and that the group has a 100 percent success rate when it finds a target.
In a video posted on YouTube announcing the attack, a computerized voice called APD officers “militarized thugs” and warned city residents about the growing police state.
The video came after helmet-camera footage was released showing officers shooting 38-year-old Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man, after an hourslong standoff in the foothills. The footage went viral and sparked a national and international outcry, and a protest of hundreds of people in Albuquerque who marched on police department headquarters.
Anonymous also urged Albuquerque residents to “occupy” APD headquarters and other department spaces today.