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6 a.m., Feb. 22
Email accounts of a retired agent for the California Department of Justice who was a member of a high-powered law enforcement computer security team in San Diego have been compromised by Anonymous, the infamous world-wide group of self-styled hactivists.
Social security numbers of an undisclosed number of unidentified individuals were contained in the stolen information.
News of the incident was furnished in a notification letter from the response team posted online May 11 by the California attorney general's office, as required by state law for breaches involving unauthorized release of confidential electronic information.
The former agent whose accounts were hacked was not identified.
"In November 2011, hackers affiliated with the group Anonymous accessed and released private email accounts belonging to a retired agent for the Department of Justice who was a member of the Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team (CATCH)," says the letter, sent to an undisclosed number of recipients.
"CATCH is a multi-agency task force that was formed to apprehend and prosecute criminals who use technology to prey on the citizens of San Diego, Imperial Valley, and Riverside Counties.
"Some of [the] emails that the hackers released included data that contained your personal information including, but not limited to, your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number (SSN).
"We have no reason to believe that your information was specifically targeted since Anonymous released the information as part of their ongoing protest against the U.S. Government and law enforcement agencies.
"Nevertheless, we wanted to inform you of this incident and provide you with some preventative measures you can take to protect yourself from becoming a possible victim of identity theft.
"Because your Social Security number was involved, we recommend that you place a fraud alert on your credit files. A fraud alert requires potential creditors to use what the law refers to as 'reasonable policies and procedures” to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. A fraud alert lasts for 90 days."
The warning letter comes just as one of CATCH's key members, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, heads into the final stretch of her bid to become San Diego mayor.
She has been using her office's computer security work as a talking point during the campaign.
A November 2010 newsletter from Dumanis's office touted the unit's performance, noting that "The District Attorney's C.A.T.C.H Team (Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team) was honored by the 1st Annual Cyber Security Awards.
"C.A.T.C.H.received an award as one of the most outstanding organizations in San Diego working to enhance cyber security on behalf of the public."
We have a call into Dumanis spokesman Steve Walker and will update when he gets back to us.