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Alleged ‘Anonymous’ hacker John Borell blamed for cyber attack on LA Canine Association

The "hacktivist" group Anonymous, represented here by a member in their omnipresent Guy Fawkes masks.
Photo by Stian Eikeland via Flickr Creative Commons

In some circles he’s a hero. To the hacker collective known as Anonymous he’s a “hacktivist” who took on authorities in the fight against injustice.

But to local and federal law enforcement, John Anthony Borell III is the man who used his computer skills to invade the privacy of more than 100 officers in the Los Angeles County Police Canine Association, for no better reason than because he could.

Authorities announced today that the 21-year-old Ohio man, already in trouble for alleged cyber attacks against law enforcement agencies in Utah, also is thought to be behind the February attacks on the Canine Association’s website, according to the L.A. Times.

Borell currently faces two counts of computer intrusion in the Utah incidents, and could get 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. He pleaded not guilty in mid-April.

But that doesn’t count any new charges which may stem from the attack on the Canine Association website. In that incident, personal information such as the phone numbers and home addresses of Los Angeles police and L.A. County Sheriff's deputies was illegally accessed and posted on a bulletin board site called Pastebin by hackers calling themselves “CabinCr3w.”

“The group was able to extract information from the website on 123 individual LACPCA members,” the association’s leaders wrote in a memo to members -- which was in turn intercepted and again posted on Pastebin by hackers. “The specific information obtained from this cyber attack included the names, phone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses and passwords from the member profile database contained within the non-public portion of the website.”

Agence France-Press reported at the time that CabinCr3w members wrote, in their original Pastebin “outing” of L.A.’s K-9 officers, that “Over the past three weeks, we in the cabin have been targeting law enforcement sites across the United States.”

Their reason? “Be it for injustices they have allowed through ignorance or naivety, taken part in, or to point out the fact that their insecurity failed to protect the safety of those they took an oath to serve.”

(Also in that posting, which is currently blocked, the hackers claimed to have found evidence of one officer harboring child pornography.)

In retaliation for these perceived misdeeds, Anonymous members have taken to hacking into databases and posting the private information of their targets -- a practice known as “doxing.”

Something similar happened to more than 40 LAPD officers two months prior to the Canine Association attack, but Borell has not been implicated in that incident.