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FBI Internet Crime Report: Over $1 Billion in Losses
In 2015, the FBI’s internet crime center received 288,012 complaints totalling over $1 billion US in reported losses. Almost half of the internet crime complaints were tied to a financial loss for the respective victims. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) provides the public with a platform for reporting cybercrime. The figures are from their recently released 2015 Internet Crime Report.
One of the emerging trends recognized by the report is Business Email Compromise, referring to a variety of crimes related to compromising legitimate business email accounts. One such crime is CEO fraud, a scam in which a cybercriminal convincingly spoofs an email from the company boss and convinces someone in the organization to transfer money to a specific account.
Such CEO phishing scams are becoming increasingly common. They typically target employees in the HR or Payroll department and the emails are often sent on Friday afternoon when everyone is tired and eager to finish their work for the week. Since the emails purport to be from the CEO, employees are quick to send the requested money transfer without much consideration.
One of the most damaging versions of the CEO phishing scam happened at Ubiquiti Networks. Last summer, a Ubiquiti employee was contacted by someone purporting to be the CEO and was tricked into sending a payment of over $45 million dollars to the perpetrators.
The CEO email scam and other Business Email Compromise scams were the focus of over 7,000 IC3 complaints in 2015 with losses totalling over $263 million.
The report also notes the continued prevalence of ransomware, a computer virus which restricts a user’s access to their own files, demanding that a ransom is paid to remove the restriction. Paying the ransom may lead to additional demands or compromise the user’s information. As noted in the report, “Recent iterations target enterprise end users, making awareness and training a critical preventative measure.”