The Cable

Hackers Target America’s Largest Police Union

The Fraternal Order of Police says a trove of data was stolen from its servers.


Amid widespread protests against police violence in U.S. cities, hackers have put America’s largest police union in their crosshairs, posting online a huge trove of the Fraternal Order of Police’s private documents for anyone to read.

In a statement posted on Facebook, FOP President Chuck Canterbury claimed the group was infiltrated by what he described as a sophisticated actor, blaming the Anonymous hacking collective and noting the attack originated overseas. But the post announcing the hack, by an Internet activist writing under the name Cthulhu, claimed the data was provided to him by an unidentified source and made no reference to the Anonymous collective.

The data dump includes bargaining agreements between city police forces and local governments, private forum posts, and names and addresses of officers.

The release is the latest in a series of breaches targeting U.S. law enforcement officers and come at a time of intense criticism against American police for their use of lethal violence. Deadly shootings of unarmed civilians by police in Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio; and Chicago have led to widespread protests against police violence.

Anonymous has hacked the website of the Cleveland police department, and in November the hacker collective known as Crackas With Attitude posted the emails and phone numbers of more than 2,000 American law enforcement agencies.

Cthulhu did not cite a political motive for releasing the FOP data and denied being “anti-police.” “I was told it should be released on the grounds the information is within the scope of public interest, in light of an ever-increasing divide between the police groups and the citizens of the U.S.,” the activist wrote online, apparently referencing his source for the data.

Cthulhu noted he possesses at least 18 terabytes of data — a huge trove — much of which has not been released. “I include this in my warning, as any police found to be interfering with the free press or activists wanting to expose wrongdoing should know they will put their name at the top of the list for material releases by doing so,” Cthulhu wrote. The name Cthulhu is a reference to an H.P. Lovecraft character.

The Fraternal Order of Police said the FBI is investigating the case. The FBI did not respond to inquiries to confirm their investigation.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @EliasGroll

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