Keeping Safe Online

Earlier this week, U.S. intelligence leaders highlighted the growing threat of cyber attacks to government entities and businesses. Cyber threats can take many forms, from the disclosure of personal information to hacking into social media or e-mail accounts to distributed denial of service attacks. Increasingly, law enforcement agencies and employees are becoming targets of cyber attacks. Further, criminals are using the Internet to threaten police and gain information about law enforcement investigations and operations.

There is no easy solution to these threats; however, there are some simple steps that you can take to help protect yourself online:

  • Use up-to-date security/anti-virus software. Be sure to download security patches and updated versions of your web browser and operating system.
  • Do not reply to e-mail requests for personal or financial information.
  • Do not click links or open attachments in unsolicited or suspicious e-mails that claim your account has been compromised. Contact the company to check the validity of the e-mail.
  • Use complex passwords, such as a combination of upper case and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Use a different password for every online account.
  • Change your passwords regularly, at least twice a year.
  • Be cautious about the information you and your loved ones share on social media. The IACP’s Center for Social Media has an online safety fact sheet.
  • Keep your home Wi-Fi network protected by securing your wireless router.
  • Be careful when using unsecured wireless networks or hotspots in restaurants, airports, and hotels.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI, provides a list of Internet crime prevention tips and current Internet crime schemes. The National Cyber Security Alliance offers a host of tools on how to keep safe online.

In the coming months, IACP’s Center for Social Media and IACP’s Computer Crime and Digital Evidence Committee are working together to create resources to educate law enforcement professionals on how to keep safe online.

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