Our View: Arizona must rise to challenge of cybersiege - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Our View: Arizona must rise to challenge of cybersiege

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Posted: Sunday, July 3, 2011 2:30 am

Arizona’s leaders, in choosing to take charge of the national dialogue on illegal immigration, provoked sophisticated enemies that it could not, at the time, foresee.

Hackers around the world have accepted the challenge of stealing and publishing any classified government documents they can find, and our state’s hard line on border issues has made it a tempting target in a war that transcends borders of any kind.

We should have seen this coming and prepared for it. Instead, we’ve been caught with our pants down — repeatedly.

It became clear late last week that we had become a victim of what state police are calling “cyberterrorism” when sensitive case files and the phone numbers and addresses of several officers were taken from a compromised email system. Then, midweek, more scandalous DPS data was dumped on websites that already are a haven for pirated material. Round three came Thursday night, when websites for police unions in our state were defaced and the hacker collective known as AntiSec leaked more documents that paint an unflattering picture of police professionalism.

Instead of going after the authors of Arizona’s controversial policies, these self-described anarchists struck the law enforcement personnel we have charged with enforcing them. Yet the statement they released hints that policymakers should be on their guard also: “We’re doing this not only because we are opposed to SB1070 and the racist Arizona police state, but because we want a world free from police, prisons and politicians altogether.”

DPS assures us that public safety has not been compromised, nor has its ability to conduct its mission to protect citizens in an effective and professional manner — and the organization is making it a priority to safeguard its employees, some of whose personal information was made public in the breach. That is entirely appropriate.

But it’s difficult to take such claims of vigilance seriously when they appear to be at the mercy of faceless attackers, and the hackers’ plunder casts the character of men and women in uniform into doubt.

It’s inexcusable to target public servants for any reason and with any weapon, even simple intimidation. But Arizona needs to use these incidents to take a long, hard look at its security measures, practices and the people it entrusts to uphold the law.

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