October Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month
Cybersecurity threats are of constant concern to the Americans. The month of October is designated to raise awareness for this ongoing threat.
“Sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services,” according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.
FBI Director James Comey called the fight against cyber terror “a top priority” in a recent speech before Congress.
The FBI lists ransomware, business email compromise (BEC) and intellectual property theft as the three most "prolific" cybersecurity threats
Ransomware can be installed on the victim’s computer when a cyber thief gains control of the system and essentially “locks out” the victim. The thief then demands a “ransom” payment before allowing the victim to regain control of their computer and unlock their files.
Business email compromise (BEC) occurs when cyber thieves hack into the email accounts of high-ranking corporate officials. These email accounts are then used to send and receive illicit wire transfers. The FBI estimates that more than $3 billion worldwide has been lost to cyber thieves in this way.
Intellectual property theft occurs when a thief gains illegal access to a victim’s computer and steals their creative works such as, but not limited to, writing, music or inventions.
“The FBI is doing everything we possibly can, at every level, to make it harder for cyber criminals to operate and I believe many of them are now starting to think twice before they put fingers to keyboard,” FBI Associate Executive Assistant Director David Johnson said in a statement. “But we also ask that the public do its part by taking precautions and implementing safeguards to protect their own data.”
Experts recommend that computer users safeguard their systems by: installing up- to- date virus and spyware protection, utilizing a secure firewall and changing passwords frequently. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) also has a list of tips for staying safe online.
FBI officials have set up the Internet Complaint Center (IC3) where citizens can actively file a complaint if they’ve been victimized online.