Anonymous, the hacking group being investigated by the Metropolitan Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a range of online attacks, has infiltrated a conference call about the case between the two authorities and posted a recording online.
The embarrassing incident has prompted ridicule of the law enforcement bodies from many Anonymous supporters on social networking sites such as Twitter but also suggests that the authorities’ targets may have had access to police email systems.
An email to officers in the UK, US and around Europe organising the call was also posted online. One Twitter account associated with Anonymous gloated: “The FBI might be curious how we’re able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now. #OpInfiltration.”
In the recording, uploaded to YouTube, two Met officers discuss details of their investigation into two alleged members of the Anonymous and LulzSec hacking crews: Ryan Cleary, 19, of Wickford, Essex, and Jake Davis, an 18-year-old who was arrested in the Shetland Islands last July.
New Scotland Yard said: “We are aware of the video which relates to an FBI conference call involving a PCeU representative.” PCeU is the Met’s computer crime unit.
“The matter is being investigated by the FBI,” the Met said. “At this stage no operational risks to the MPS [Metropolitan Police service] have been identified; however, we continue to carry out a full assessment.”
The FBI said: “The information was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained. A criminal investigation is under way to identify and hold accountable those responsible.”
Further embarrassment may be caused to the Met officers on the call who are heard discussing a forthcoming conference in Sheffield which is ridiculed as “not exactly a jewel in England’s crown”. They joke that its attractions include a McDonald’s restaurant.
The pair of Met officers also admit to their FBI partners: “We cocked things up in the past, we know that.”
At one point in the 15-minute recording, which was made last month, another individual under investigation is mocked by the officers.
“He’s a 15-year-old kid who is basically doing it all for attention and is a bit of an idiot,” they say of one alleged hacker, described as a “LulzSec wannabe” involved in “the supposed Project Mayhem, whatever the hell that was”.
An individual using the same online name on Twitter said in response: “lol.. Still I never got arrested lol.”