City of Austin websites go down, hackers take credit in protest

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin’s websites went offline early Thursday morning, and a group of hackers took credit, claiming it was a protest against the Austin Police Department.

The hackers known as Anonymous said they were the ones who took the city’s website, austintexas.gov, offline. This morning it appeared to just impact the user-facing web pages. The outages were intermittent throughout the morning, specifically for austintexas.gov.

The City Council was expected to hold a meeting at 10 a.m. and hundreds of people have signed up to speak during a special meeting related to the Austin Police Department’s response to police brutality protests last weekend.

David Green with the City of Austin said the service that streams the meetings runs through a different server, and they are telling people to use the direct link to view the meeting.

“We’re seeing a high volume of web traffic and the IT folks are working on it,” Green said. “It’s too early to tell an actual cause at this point.”

Green also says only AustinTexas.gov is being affected by an increase in traffic. Things like bill pay, AE, or other sites not immediately hosted on those same servers, have remained accessible.

Council Member Jimmy Flannigan told KXAN they had to delay the start of the meeting and that the IT department was working “furiously” to fix the video issues so the public could watch and the meeting could begin. It started a little after 10:20 a.m.

KXAN contacted the Austin Police Department Thursday morning, and they said their systems were working as expected.

The group of hackers tweeted at 4:46 a.m. taking credit for it, then again at 5:45 a.m. saying “@Austin_Police you should have expected us!” and included hashtags regarding the murder of George Floyd. They also mentioned Austin police shooting and critically injuring 20-year-old Justin Howell.

The 5:45 a.m. tweet also said “more targets are coming.”

Anonymous says they’ve taken down other websites, like ones for the Minnesota Bank and Trust and United Minnesota Bank, but those sites were back up as of this writing.

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