Data breach reveals some police departments aren’t prepared for active shooters

The personal information of police officers as well as some of the capabilities — and deficiencies — of local police departments are part of a large data breach affecting the federally funded Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training facility at Texas State University. ALERRT, as it’s more commonly known, helped trained 114,000 law enforcement officers how to handle active shooter scenarios, and the facility has worked with federal agencies like the FBI.

According to data breach hunter Flash Gordon, the database — which dates back to April 2017 and contains the names and work contact information of law enforcement officers, and agents from the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Border Patrol — was uploaded to a web server without password protection. The breach also included information about the officers and their home addresses as well as the skills and capabilities of more than 17,000 instructors, according to ZDNet.

The ALERRT data breach also contained a database of more than 85,000 emails containing sensitive personal information, like an officer’s birth date or the last four digits of their Social Security number. “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,” security researcher John Wethington told ZDNet of the breach.

In addition to revealing personal information from law enforcement officers, the email database also contains insights on how prepared police departments and law enforcement agencies at handling active shooter situations. A few of the email exchanges detailed requests from several police agencies for training from ALERRT. Those agencies revealed that their departments did not have active shooter training and that a nearby agency with that kind of capability may be miles away. Given the large influx of request from local agencies, ALERRT did notify at least one police officer that it “couldn’t facilitate his request at this time,” according to ZDNet.

“This intelligence could be easily exploited by domestic terrorists or ‘lone wolves’ to exploit the weaknesses discussed in this correspondence,” Wethington said in ZDNet’s report. “For instance, an individual who wanted to push a particular state or local agency and the community it supports into a crisis need only look for an agency or community in this data that has expressed concern for their ability to respond to a active shooter.”

The database has since been removed, though it’s unclear if any of the information contained in the breach had been misused or obtained by malicious actors.

Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Gaming

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Emerging Tech

New gunfire-detection system alerts police of shooters in seconds, not minutes

The Safe Zone Gunfire Detector is a fast gunfire-detection system that could help avert potential tragedies in public places like schools, malls, or anywhere a mass shooting might occur.
Computing

Federal jury convicts malware creators of hijacking 400,000 computers

Two Romanian men have been convicted by a federal jury for using malware to hijack 400,000 computers in order to steal credit card information, engage in cryptomining, and commit online auction fraud, among a number of other crimes.
Computing

Mueller report releases on CD, forces Congress to find PCs with disc drives

The Mueller report was released this week to Congress via CDs and congressional members had to find PCs with working disc drives to access the 400-page document. The redacted report was also released to the public on a website.
Gaming

Kick off your streaming career with our complete guide to Twitch broadcasting

Streaming games on Twitch for the first time can be daunting to say the least, but with a few simple steps, it's remarkably easy to do. Here's how to do so using a PC, Mac, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 console.
Computing

Google Chrome will get a Reader Mode for distraction-free desktop browsing

If Google's testing of Reader Mode on the Chrome Canary desktop browser is successful, soon all Chrome users will gain access to this feature. Reader Mode strips away irrelevant content on a webpage for distraction-free browsing.
Computing

Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.
Computing

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…
Computing

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.