The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Crime Complaint Center (IC3) have notified the increasing threats to target law enforcement officials, officers, and agents by hacktivists.
“Law enforcement personnel and public officials may be at an increased risk of cyber attacks,” an FBI release stated. “These attacks can be precipitated by someone scanning networks or opening infected emails containing malicious attachments or links.”
The Internet Crime Complaint Center has warned that hacking collectives were “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,” the notice read.
The notice particularly warned of doxing (when a person or group will collate personal information on a person, like phone numbers and addresses, and publish it online without permission), which could be used to identify and target an individual.
“Recent activity suggests family members of law enforcement personnel and public officials are also at risk for cyber attacks and doxing activity,” said the notice. “Targeted information may include personally identifiable information and public information and pictures from social media Web sites.”
The main purpose of FBI is to inform police officers who post identifying information on social media (including images of themselves in uniform) are making more vulnerable to being targeted.
However it is not evident whether there has been a direct threat to target law enforcement officials. The notice did not warn of a specific threat, nor did it name any particular group or individual.
The FBI has also drawn attention to the data collection efforts that could lead to “swatting” which is the process of “calling law enforcement authorities to report a hostage situation or other critical incident” when no such incident exists.