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Likely hike in Anonymous hacktivism in wake of cop shooting, says tech expert

A member of Anonymous is pictured wearing a Guy Fawkes mask at a protest in Toulouse, France on January 28th, 2012. The fatal police shooting of a masked man associated with the international hackers' group has set the stage for an unprecedented escalation in online attacks across Canada, says a technology expert.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pierre-Selim
July 20, 2015 - 9:00 PM

VANCOUVER - The fatal police shooting of a masked man associated with the international hackers' group Anonymous has set the stage for an unprecedented escalation in online attacks across Canada, says a technology expert.

Independent tech analyst Carmi Levy said this incident should be "sounding a very loud alarm," but the Canadian government is failing to take the hazard seriously.

"It's a whole new threat level," Levy said in an interview on Monday.

"And because Anonymous now seems to be very firmly focused on Canadian targets it's reasonable to assume that Canadians can expect this kind of activity to continue and intensify in the next few weeks and months."

RCMP officers shot and killed a man Thursday evening outside a restaurant in Dawson Creek, B.C., where a hearing for the controversial Site C hydroelectric dam was taking place.

The BC Coroners Service identified the shooting victim as James McIntyre, a 48-year-old Dawson Creek resident.

Police said they shot the man after he refused to comply with officers' instructions. He later died in hospital.

Eyewitness video posted online showed a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask lying bloodied on the ground while two Mounties faced him with weapons drawn.

The smiling Fawkes mask has become a symbol for Anonymous since its high-profile attack against the Church of Scientology in 2008. Fawkes was the most well-know member of a plot to blow up the British Parliament in 1605.

The hacktivist group issued a press release claiming the man killed last Thursday as one of their own and vowed revenge against the RCMP. It promised to identify the officer involved and release his personal information on the Internet.

It referred to the shooting victim as the fourth Anonymous member to be killed in as many years, with the three other deaths reportedly having taken place in Turkey, Egypt and Palestine.

The group claimed responsibility for temporarily disrupting the RCMP's main site and site for its Dawson Creek detachment one day after the shooting.

Levy said Anonymous is relatively benign as far as hacking groups go but that it took the unusual step in this instance of threatening additional, unspecified tactics beyond crashing websites.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney was in Vancouver speaking to the city's board of trade on Monday but did not make himself available to answer questions about the shooting and the Anonymous threats.

B.C.'s Justice Minister Suzanne Anton confirmed there was a cyber threat against the RCMP and expressed concern for the officers involved.

"Police want to keep people safe," she said. "They don't like it when situations like this happen. It's very difficult for everyone."

The province's police watchdog is investigating the shooting and said a knife has been seized.

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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