Anchorage police say unidentified hackers managed to post a false survey on the department’s main recruiting website, sending prospective police officers to another site which may have infected their computers with malware.

A brief statement from police said the survey, which had been posted on JoinAPD.org, was first discovered Thursday.

“Users who logged onto the website were redirected to take a fake survey,” police wrote. “Anyone who took this survey may have exposed their computer to a virus and should get their device checked out.”

The website is a key element of APD’s recruiting strategy, appearing on some Anchorage police cruisers as well as the department’s main website. Eighteen new officers were sworn in late last year, as the department aims for a 450-strong force.

Police recruiting has also been a political factor in Anchorage’s recent mayoral race, with re-elected incumbent Ethan Berkowitz saying Friday that swelling APD’s ranks of sworn officers is a key component of his second term’s strategy against crime.

It wasn’t immediately clear how long the fake survey had appeared on the website, how many people had clicked on it or what malware it carried, APD spokesman MJ Thim said Friday. He emphasized that the site is online again and is now safe.

"We worked last night and made the repairs," Thim said. "We put up a new firewall and additional security measures and the site went back up around 8:30."

Police were still trying to determine the scope of the hack, according to Thim, including what information the survey requested and what information from users may have been compromised. He said APD does not host surveys of any kind on the recruiting site, and users should not click on any others they see there.

APD’s own investigators are handling the case, Thim said, and have no indication that the survey was shared on social media. Figures on how many people visit the site weren’t immediately available Friday, but Thim said it carries a high profile for the department.

“It’s one of our most popular websites because we’ve been actively recruiting, and we’ve been recruiting for our December academy,” Thim said.

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