Hackers are steadily gaining more expertise in using publicly available information to identify law enforcement officers and size them up for cyber attack.
Experts are urging officers to become more aware of the content they post online and how it can affect the safety and privacy of themselves, their family and their employer, and how it could be used against them in a court of law.
Personal information that should be carefully guarded includes home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and passwords. Caution is also urged when posting photographs, especially those of a uniformed officer.
Totally eliminating online exposure in the digital age is nearly impossible, but law enforcement and public officials can take the following steps to protect themselves from malicious hackers:
- Turn on all privacy settings on social media sites and don’t post pictures showing your affiliation to law enforcement.
- Be aware of the security settings on your home computers and wireless networks.
- Limit personal postings on media sites and carefully consider comments.
- Restrict your driver license and vehicle registration information with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Request that real estate and personal property records be restricted from online searches with your county of residence.
- Regularly update hardware and software applications, including antivirus programs.
- Pay close attention to work and personal emails, especially those containing attachments or links to websites. These suspicious or phishing emails may contain infected attachments or links.
- Make a habit of conducting online searches of your name to identify what public information is already available.
- Enable additional email security measures to include two factor authentication on your personal email accounts. This is a security feature offered by many email providers. The feature will cause a text message to be sent to your mobile device prior to accessing your email account.
- Closely monitor your credit and banking activity for fraudulent activity.
- Passwords should be changed often. It is recommended to use a password phrase of 15 characters or more.
- Be aware of pretext or suspicious phone calls or emails from people phishing for information or pretending to know you. Social engineering is a skill often used to trick you into divulging confidential information and continues to be an effective tool for criminals.
- Advise family members to turn on security settings on ALL their social media accounts.