The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is tasked with monitoring on many different kinds of national security, including protecting people and businesses from the threat of cyber crime. In addition to responding to dangers from hackers, the FBI also keeps track of rates of cyber crime in the US. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the FBI reports that cybercrime has risen by a whopping 300%. With more businesses relying on the internet to reach their customers, and on VPNs for their employees working from home, the stakes have never been higher for cybersecurity.
FBI Cybercrime Units
The FBI maintains an Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is designated as a reporting site for anyone who has information on scams, cyber attacks or other internet-based dangers. They ask that anyone who can report a potential scam do so. You can also forward phishing emails, unsolicited offers, or other spam to firstname.lastname@example.org so that it can be properly investigated.
Cyber Risks for Businesses
The FBI has labeled several crimes as high risk to businesses. One of the most common is Business Email Compromise, also known as Email Account Compromise. This kind of attack relies on the fact that most businesses rely on email communications, both internally and externally, and that they also often transmit financial information over the internet.
Business Email Compromise may look like emails from vendors your business regularly interfaces with, or even from coworkers or managers within your own company. Fake email addresses will attempt to impersonate legitimate ones that are familiar to users. They may make direct financial requests, such as sending false invoices, or ask for banking information to make deposits. These attempts to scam businesses out of money, or into sharing confidential information, are common risks for anyone using email to exchange data.
FBI-Recommended Strategies to Reduce Your Risk
Many of the official recommendations from the FBI are common sense steps anyone can take to reduce their risk of becoming the victim of a cyber attack. FBI strategies are focused overall on reducing vulnerability. Reducing your business’s vulnerability online reduces the risk of becoming a victim of a cyber attack. It can also minimize your loss, in the event that your business is targeted. Some steps recommended by the FBI to minimize your risk of cyber attacks are:
- Keep your firewall up and running: A proper firewall works to scan, identify, manage, and filter your network traffic, alerting you to suspicious web addresses and activity. The FBI recommends using software firewalls for single computers, and hardware router protection for multiple linked computers, which you might manage for your business.
- Install and update antivirus software: Even the best antivirus software can’t work properly if it isn’t up to date. Turning on automatic updates is one way to make sure your business is keeping up with recommended boosters to your antivirus software.
- Install and update anti spyware technology: Different online threats can take different forms. Making sure you have the technology to combat various data mining efforts can keep your business safer. The FBI also reminds users to source their protection from reputable sources. Oftentimes, free downloadable antivirus or anti spyware programs from the internet may actually contain malicious bots or viruses. When in doubt, only install programs from sources you know and trust.
- Keep operating systems up to date: Many updates come with security fixes and responses to ever-evolving cyber threats. Keeping your computer synced with the latest updates can ensure that your network is ready for whatever it may be faced with.
- Be wary of downloads: While businesses often receive communications from new clients, new hires, and other possible strangers online, it’s still important to screen what attachments you download and messages you open. The FBI reminds any and all email users that even attachments from people you know may still unwittingly contain malicious code. Opening attachments from strangers is an even bigger risk to your entire operating system.
- Turn off your computer: One of the most effective ways to keep your network protected is also good for the environment. It’s easy to do: simply turn off your computer when it’s not in use. While it’s tempting for businesses to leave everything up and running between work hours, turning off your computer can both reduce your overall risk as well as cut off an existing bot’s access to your files.
FBI Recommendations and Safety Online
Even with the skyrocketing rates of cybercrime, taking these practical risks to reduce your vulnerability can help protect your business. Your privacy, data, and business’s viability and good name are all worth taking the extra steps to safeguard. These simple FBI recommendations can help keep your network safe, and your business moving forward free from cyber trouble.