- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2018

Federal agents employed by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are among thousands of U.S. law enforcement officials affected by a data breach reported Friday involving the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERTT, a federally-funded active-shooter training center at Texas State University.

A database containing the details of officers who sought or underwent active-shooter response training at the center was recently discovered on a publicly accessible web server lacking password protection, ZDnet reported Friday.

The database has since been taken offline, but not without first being accessed by a pseudonymous cybersecurity researcher known as Flash Gordon and given to ZDNet, the report said. Others may have accessed the server as well, however, potentially putting thousands of police officers at risk.

Among the data found on the exposed server was a table listing the full names and zip codes of some 65,000 officers who had taken an ALERRT course and provided feedback, ZDnet reported. Other leaked data included information on over 17,000 course instructors, more than 85,000 outgoing emails and law enforcement officers’ contact information including personal email addresses and cellphone numbers, the report said.

The exposed database was created in April 2017 and contains information concerning local, state and federal officers, including agents from the FBI and at least two division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Border Patrol, the report said.

Neither the FBI, DHS nor ALERRT’s executive director, Pete Blair, commented on the breach when contacted, ZDNet reported.

“We always follow all state laws,” Mr. Blair responded when asked if he’d report a potential breach to authorities.

Personally identifiable information risks being leveraged by criminals, including identity thieves and extremists, and federal agents have previously had their names appear on “hit lists” circulated by supporters of the Islamic State terrorist group after being leaked online.

“In the wrong hands this data could be detrimental or even deadly for the first responders who put their lives on the line every day,” said John Wethington, a security researcher who examined some of the data for ZDNet.

Along with open source intelligence, the data “could be used to target individuals or groups of first responders and their families,” the researcher added.

President Trump said at a rally Wednesday that federal law enforcement officials are “under attack,” citing recent criticism directed toward U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and his administration’s “zero tolerance” policies at the southern border.

“Democrats are now launching vicious smears against our incredible ICE officers and our Border Patrol agents,” Mr. Trump said during the event in Fargo, North Dakota. “Left-wing activists are trying to block ICE officers from doing their jobs and publicly posting their home addresses, putting these incredible people and their families in harm’s way.

“These radical Democrat protesters, they really want anarchy, but the only response they will find from our government is very strong law and order,” he said.

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