IACP Quick Take: How to battle cyber threats facing law enforcement

Back up your data and keep your training on cyber threats up-to-date

Here’s a quick summary of today’s session on cyber threats today threatening law enforcement by Deputy Director of National White Collar Crime Center Mark Gage at IACP 2014 in Orlando, Fla:  

Quick Summary:
Maintaining cyber security is crucial for protecting our departments, our individual officers, and our reputation as a trustworthy agency to our communities. In order to do this we must inform our officers, create and enforce policies, and keep up with the ever-changing world of cyber crime.

Memorable Quotes:
“When we think of networks we think computer networks but we also have to think about people – most important part of the network.” – Mark Gage

Swansea (Ma.) Police Chief George Arruda (center) discusses a hacking incident his department faced at IACP 2014.
Swansea (Ma.) Police Chief George Arruda (center) discusses a hacking incident his department faced at IACP 2014. (PoliceOne Photo)

“If we were attacked today, do we even know what we’re supposed to do? Who do we reach out to? Who would be responsible for handling it?” – Steve Sambar, LAPD commanding officer of major crimes division

“If you don’t understand the dynamics involved in the level of the attack and the security plan in place, you’re never going to catch up. It’s a foot race.” - Jim Emerson, IACP cyber security sector

Key Takeaways:

  1. Social media is the largest opportunity for malware and other viruses. Know if and when your officers are using the internet for personal use, such as social media and music downloading. Let them know never to open strange emails, or to click on link or image files when they aren’t expecting one.
  2. Don’t just back up your data – back it up in the cloud, back it up to a second location (in a separate building) so that a disaster doesn’t result in total loss of data.
  3. Some quick fixes include requiring different passwords for different programs, updating your passwords every 90 days,  and using strong passwords that require numbers, letters, and symbols.
  4. Once you’ve established a plan, test that plan to ensure it works the way you’ve anticipated it to.

Other Observations:
Many police agencies have networks that are not controlled directly by your agency, but by your city. Educate your city manager in order to protect your data. Talk to your staff about ideas on how to better protect your data.

Thumb drives are one of the most dangerous devices out there in terms of infecting your network. Cops find them and are curious to find out what is on it and it can instantaneously downloads malware. People are the weakest link in your network.

For More Information:
NWC3 offers the largest cyber training in country – they can teach your officers how to investigate criminal activity in your town.

IACP plans to launch a cyber center in January 2015 that will act as a resource for departments. 

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