Law enforcement personnel and public officials may be at an increased risk of cyber attacks. These attacks can be precipitated by someone scanning networks or opening infected emails containing malicious attachments or links. Hacking collectives are effective at leveraging open source, publicly available information identifying officers, their employers, and their families. With this in mind, officers and public officials should be aware of their online presence and exposure. For example, posting images wearing uniforms displaying name tags or listing their police department on social media sites can increase an officer's risk of being targeted or attacked.
Many legitimate online posts are linked directly to personal social media accounts. Law enforcement personnel and public officials need to maintain an enhanced awareness of the content they post and how it may reflect on themselves, their family, their employer or how it could be used against them in court or during online attacks.
The act of compiling and posting an individual's personal information without permission is known as doxing. The personal information gathered from social media and other Web sites could include home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and any other information used to target an individual during a cyber attack. The information is then posted on information sharing Web sites with details suggesting why the individual should be targeted.
Recent activity suggests family members of law enforcement personnel and public officials are also at risk for cyber attacks and doxing activity. Targeted information may include personally identifiable information and public information and pictures from social media Web sites.
Another dangerous attack often used by criminals is known as “swatting.” This involves calling law enforcement authorities to report a hostage situation or other critical incident at the victim's residence, when there is no emergency situation.
While eliminating your exposure in the current digital age is nearly impossible, law enforcement and public officials can take steps to minimize their risk in the event they are targeted.