According to a report by the Associated Press based on a document obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, several officials high up in the hierarchy of police departments in major US cities are being “doxed.” Doxing means having their personal information exposed online by people who are apparently hoping the information will be used for malicious purposes or to inspire fear in the wake of the protests against police violence. Reports have come from departments in many different major cities stating that some of their officers have been affected. Those cities included Washington, DC, Atlanta, Boston and New York, but it is not limited to just those. A report coming out of Kentucky stated that federal officials discovered posts on social media that included a link related to information about officers and their family members. The information found when visiting the link included full names, the names of their family members, home addresses, specific information about the vehicles they drive and online account login information. While it is not illegal to post this type of information online, it can make it dangerous for officers and their family members if others use the information to harass or threaten violence against them. Although some of the information exposed may have come from compromised accounts, most of it likely came from publicly available databases and various social media outlets.
Officers and anyone who may be at risk are encouraged to increase their online security posture by using two-factor authentication and strong passwords that are not re-used on other sites. Avoid visiting suspicious survey sites or playing online games that may request personal information. Any email coming from an unknown sender should also be viewed with caution and the amount and type of information being posted on social media should always be thought about carefully. The Department of Homeland Security assesses with “medium confidence that cyber actors will possibly continue to target law enforcement officers with doxxing tactics to undermine law enforcement’s response to ongoing lawful protests.”