Addressing Cyber Threats

Calls to conduct cyber attacks against law enforcement agencies and individual officers have reemerged, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). These attacks can include scanning agency networks for vulnerabilities, sending emails containing malicious attachments and links, and gathering and posting officers’ personal information online. Agencies are also reporting being victimized by “ransomware,” which infects files and computers and demands that the victim pay before a countdown clock runs out. Recent activity suggests that threats against officers’ families are also being targeted by hacktivists and other individuals.

Agencies and individual employees can protect against these threats by:

  • Using privacy settings on social media sites and encouraging employees and their family members to do the same;
  • Requiring security settings on all agency devices and personal devices that will be connected to agency networks;
  • Carefully considering what is posted and the potential implications of what is posted on social media sites;
  • Paying close attention to links and attachments included in emails, especially if the sender is unknown;
  • Routinely updating hardware and software applications including firewalls and antivirus programs;
  • Requiring strong passwords that include upper case and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols and requiring that these passwords be changed routinely; and,
  • Establishing social media and Internet use policies and procedures, educating employees about the risks and their roles in mitigating them, and explaining the policies.

Internet safety is not only something that you should be teaching your community, it is something your agency and employees should be practicing. For more information online officer safety, the IACP Center for Social Media has an online safety fact sheet. To report an attempted or successful attack, scam, or other Internet crime, visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.IC3.gov.

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