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State and federal agencies encourage reporting when you or your company have been hacked

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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(WSAW) - The FBI’s Internet Crime Report found there was a 69% increase in reports of cybercrimes last year compared to 2019. That includes more than 791,790 complaints with more than $4.1 billion in reported losses nationally. Of those totals, Wisconsin had 8,308 victims with $36,081,681 in reported losses, not necessarily including lost wages or production.

Law enforcement, specifically the FBI and Wisconsin Department of Justice urge the importance of reporting these crimes when they happen, not only for the victims to receive resources and help from these agencies, but also to hold those responsible for the attack accountable.

The most costly attack from the last year is from compromised business emails, with phishing scams also being common, however, ransomware is a big threat on the rise as well.

“They’re getting a little more sophisticated and they’re getting much better at their tradecraft,” Special Agent Drew Schoeneck with the Wis. DOJ said about the cybercriminals.

Schoeneck has been investigating cybercrime for the last 10 years and currently works in the Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center, which acts as a clearinghouse for cybercrime information and works closely with federal partners. He said the cybercriminals are getting more organized and targeting large organizations with the ability to pay a large ransom.

“Whether it be going out and hiring people who are native English speakers to better craft those phishing emails that trick people,” he said. “Something that’s new is what’s called ransomware as a service, so they’re kind of working together just like a business would and offering their services.”

When a company or person’s systems and data get hacked and encrypted, it can shut down an organization for hours or days with massive financial and privacy implications if they do not get back up and running. So, they are put in a hard spot and often pay the ransom, but the FBI does not recommend that despite the difficulty.

“That just gives (them) more funds to do their job to pay other people to do the job better essentially so the money that they’re getting in will just kind of bolster their attempts,” stated Schoeneck, adding that they may still release the encrypted information on the dark web or publicly.

While businesses may be hesitant to report Schoeneck said it will allow investigators to follow trends to discern who is actually receiving the ransom money, and ultimately hold cybercriminals accountable.

“As things are evolving, they’re getting more sophisticated trying to track down the artifacts that are left behind, we call them indicators of compromise are getting a little bit more difficult at times, or they’re changing, or they’re getting better at covering their tracks,” Schoeneck said.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Report states:

Public reporting is central to the mission and success of IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center). Submitting a cyber crime complaint to IC3.gov not only helps the FBI address specific complaints—and provide support and assistance to victims —but also helps us prevent additional crimes by finding and holding criminal actors accountable. Information reported to the IC3 helps the FBI better understand the motives of cyber-criminals, the evolving threat posed, and tactics utilized, enabling us to most effectively work with partners to mitigate the damage to victims.

To report a cybercrime to the Wisconsin DOJ, click here. To report it to IC3, click here.

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