In recent months, the number of hackers attempting to and in many cases accessing police department computers and databases has increased significantly. When you stop to think about the type of information stored in these systems, such as personal information, much of this data can be used to put law enforcement officers at risk.
Doxing Puts Officers at Risk
Cyberattacks, including doxing, which is when personal information is released online to the public, are increasingly putting law enforcement officers and their families at risk. A perfect example of this occurred shortly after the officer involved shooting in Ferguson, MO when the well-known hacker group Anonymous released personal information about Police Chief Jon Belmar on the web. Not only this, but they also released photos of Belmar and his family, his home address, and his phone number.
By the numbers, it is starting to look very grim for the “Boys in Blue” as there was an increase of 56 percent in the number of officers killed from 2015 to 2016. In 2016 64 officers were killed in the line of duty and of those, approximately one third lost their lives to ambush-style killings.
The problem is only expected to get worse as more personal information like this is released to the public. As this information becomes available, it makes it easier for those who have a beef with their local law enforcement officers to resort to violence against the officers in an attempt to take action for what they feel are injustices. It also makes it more important than ever for every member of law enforcement and their families to do everything they can to protect themselves and their personal information.
Aging Equipment Multiplies the Problem
From big city police departments to small towns and villages, one of the biggest problems tends to be aging computer equipment. These systems with their outdated operating systems and programming are far easier for hackers to successfully infiltrate. Small older departments simply may not have the money to upgrade their systems. But this doesn’t mean they can’t still be doing their part to prevent hackers from accessing their databases.
One of the best possible ways to keep hackers at bay is to be very wary when opening emails. Quite simply put, if you don’t recognize the sender, you should not open the email. By doing this, you can significantly reduce the possibility of hackers being able to access your system and the sensitive data it contains.
Help from the Department of Homeland Security
If you are interested in more information designed to help you protect your department’s database and keep the information it contains safe, the Department of Homeland Security has put together a wealth of information. Their website contains a number of simple things you can do without spending a lot of money your department may not have to spend. In the end, it is up to you and the officers in your department to do your part to protect your database and each other from hackers and personal attacks.