2017 Internet Crime Report
The FBI released the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) 2017 Internet Crime Report earlier this month. IC3 was created to support Internet crime complaints and has received over 4,000,000 complaints since its inception. The purpose of the annual report is to provide an overall picture of Internet crime to the general public and it focuses on many of the cyber awareness topics we work to reinforce at Cyber Safe Workforce such as Business Email Compromise (BEC), ransomware, and Tech Support fraud, among other topics.
Business Email Compromise
Business Email Compromise, or Email Account Compromise (EAC), a scam where legitimate email accounts are compromised by hackers, has morphed over the years. The report notes that in 2014, personal accounts were compromised and requests for payment were sent to vendors listed in personal contacts. In 2015, the scam shifted to hackers posing as law firms instructing victims to make secret or time sensitive wire transfers. By 2016, the focus shifted from payment requests to requests for other sensitive data, specifically W-2s. In 2017, the real estate industry was hit hard by BEC, with many victims reporting losses related to real estate transactions. The IC3 received close to 16,000 BEC/EAC-related complaints with losses tallying over $675 million in 2017.
Ransomware, which targets networks through technical or human weakness, is another major area of concern for IC3. When a ransomware attack is successful, network files are locked with encrypted code and ransomed back to the owner. The FBI does not support paying a ransom to retrieve files, although the decision is ultimately up to the victimized company or to the individual. In 2017, the IC3 received 1,783 complaints related to ransomware with losses of over $2.3 million.
Tech Support Fraud
Tech Support fraud is a widespread scam noted in the crime report. Here, the fraudster pretends to be customer or technical support as a method of gaining access to the victims’ device and/or accounts. Once the device or account is compromised, hackers can steal the victim’s personal information or send phishing messages to the victim’s contacts. With almost 11,000 complaints and financial loss at nearly $15 million, losses related to Tech Support fraud have increased 90% since 2016.
This recap should serve as a reminder to us all to stay vigilant online. Awareness of these scams will go a long way in protecting ourselves from online danger.