The shooting in Dawson Creek, which Anonymous says was unprovoked, triggered a vehement response from the group, who launched a massive cyberoperation codenamed AnonDown to force Canadian police to reveal the identity of the shooter.
The declaration of war on Saturday was followed by a series of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on RCMP web pages the next day, including on its national website, the Dawson Creek affiliate site and the RCMP Heritage Center page.
On Monday, hacktivists said they had stepped up the operation to gain access to government secrets. "AnonDown has accessed docs marked ‘secret’ inside Canadian government. It's not just a DDoS op anymore kiddos," the activists said in a taunting tweet.
The killing of the protester took place last Thursday when Canadian mounted police responded to a disturbance at a public hearing where a controversial dam project was being discussed.
Upon arrival, police singled out a masked man who allegedly refused to surrender and was shot down, police said, adding that a pocket knife was later recovered at the scene.
Anonymous, however, told the local Globe and Mail newspaper that lawmen gunned down the wrong man. The man who allegedly caused the disturbance during the dam debates had left by the time police moved in. They said the victim, who succumbed to the gunshot wound later at a hospital, was fired at while trying to put the knife on the ground.
The policeman behind the killing has not been identified publicly. In a video statement, Anonymous vowed to "identify the RCMP officer involved and release the docs on the Internet because the world has the right to know every detail about killer cops."
In a Saturday video statement, Anonymous said they would seek justice for the slain activist and avenge him if their demands are not met. They also pledged to rally the entire collective of hacktivists to "remove the RCMP cyber infrastructure from the Internet."
The first "cyber-shots" were fired on Sunday when the main RCMP website and Dawson Creek detachment site could not be accessed for several hours.
The group later claimed responsibility for the outages. The Globe and Mail cited a Twitter posting, associated with the hacker group, which suggested "turning it off and back on again."
The main RCMP website was online on Monday. But Anonymous warned that there was more such actions to follow. "Our vengeance will be swift and powerful but it will not include violence," they tweeted.
Not So Harmless
Denial-of-access attacks that involve flooding the target website with communication requests are often used to crash a site for a short period of time.
Nevertheless, hacktivists’ threats to disrupt the work of police websites should not be taken lightly, the Globe and Mail cited a cybersecurity expert from the Defence Intelligence firm as saying on Sunday.
Defence Intelligence Chief Executive Keith Murphy told the outlet that the group had a global reach of about one and a half million, and had proven in the past to go through with their threats.