A massive cache of tens of thousands of hacked emails detailing the inner workings of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration was leaked to the public last month apparently in response to the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
The emails were posted online on April 19 by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a nonprofit whistleblower group similar to WikiLeaks that’s facilitated other recent high-profile data dumps. An unrelated hacker gang initially stole the files during a series of data breaches that swept up sensitive information from corporations, universities and government bodies.
Freddy Martinez, a local activist and member of DDoSecrets’ board, said his team discovered the files on the “dark web,” an unchecked portion of the Internet that’s a haven for cybercriminals. DDoSecrets ultimately posted the voluminous collection of emails after realizing they contained information “the public should know,” Martinez said.
“In light of the killing of Adam Toledo, we have decided to publish a cache of emails from the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department,” DDoSecrets noted in a post announcing the release.
The email accounts contain header information to indicate they belong to Susan Lee, the former deputy mayor of public safety; Patrick Mullane, Lightfoot’s former deputy press secretary; Tamika Puckett, the city’s former chief risk officer; and Anjali Julka, the former Freedom of Information Act officer for the mayor’s office. But they include emails that contain header information indicting they were authored by a host of city officials, including Lightfoot.
Kristen Cabanban, a spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department, didn’t immediately raise concerns about the authenticity of the hacked files when she responded on April 21 to a Sun-Times inquiry about the data breach.
But on Friday, shortly before the city issued a news release about the hack, Cabanban said city agencies wouldn’t comment on the content of the emails. In her latest statement, Cabanban claimed there’s “no evidence” to suggest the files are genuine, adding that reporting on them “makes all of us less safe and encourages future bad actors to use…