The FBI recently issued a warning to law enforcement personnel and other public officials that they are being targeted by cyberattacks of various hacktivist groups and others who, in many instances are posting on the Internet large amounts of personal information about their intended targets which can be used to threaten the security of the targets as well as put them in imminent danger of identity theft. The trail to this information often starts with the law officers and government officials themselves and their families who not only have much information about them contained at a myriad of places accessible to the public online, but also put too much information online themselves through social media.
This situation is reminiscent of the Scam of the day from April 2, 2015 in which I told you about an ISIS inspired group that make public personal information about American military personnel. Although the ISIS aligned group claimed it had hacked into military servers to obtain the information, in fact, the information was readily available merely by Googling public information available throughout the Internet.
This activity of exposing personal information of a targeted victim is called “doxing” and it presents a real threat to the security of the people exposed in this manner. Information such as home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, photographs and more are not difficult to obtain on line and this information can be used to obtain further information through phishing attacks against the intended victims.
Some of the things the FBI are urging law enforcement personnel and public officials to do include refraining from posting photographs on social media that show they are affiliated with law enforcement or other government agencies. In addition, they should be more cognizant of establishing the security settings on all of their computers, smartphones and social media to as strong a setting as possible. The FBI also advises law enforcement personnel and public officials to limit their use of social media. In addition it is a good idea for people who are potential targets to regularly do online searches about themselves to see what information is available about them online. Finally, they should take the same precautions in regard to personal security as I describe in my book “Identity Theft Alert” that we all should do. Privacy is an important thing to be protected.
Although the FBI warning was aimed at law enforcement officers and public officials, the same advice including being extremely careful about the information you make available online through social media and elsewhere, truly applies to us all.