The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) saw over 300,000 consumers report cyber-fraud and malware attacks in 2017, with losses exceeding an estimated $1.4 billion.
According to the yearly FBI Internet crime report, the top threats include well-established trends like phishing, ransomware and whaling, alongside new attack vectors in tech support fraud, non-payment scams and even straightforward extortion.
A bulk of the complaints stem from business email compromise, also known as ‘whaling’. A total of 15,690 individuals were affected, accounting to losses of over $875 million. A whaling scenario typically sees criminals purporting to be senior company executives and requesting wire transfers by demanding a change in account information to siphon money into their own accounts. Other forms include requests for personally identifiable information or W-2 form data for employees. The real estate sector, in particular, was heavily targeted in 2017 according to the FBI.
Meanwhile, the number of reported ransomware infections has gone down in 2017. The FBI received a total of 1,783 complaints, down from the 2,673 complaints received in 2016. As a result, ransomware is the 24th most reported cyber-crime in the united states, with damages costing victims a total of $2.3 million.
“The FBI does not support paying a ransom to the adversary. Paying a ransom does not guarantee an organization will regain access to their data; in fact, some individuals or organizations were never provided with decryption keys after having paid a ransom, the agency said on the record in an article last year.
Of note, the FBI also received 14,938 complaints of extortion, with adjusted losses of over $15 million last year. Older Americans are the most targeted demographic, with nearly 50,000 complaints coming from victims over the age of 60 who suffered losses of nearly $350 million.
Image credit: LIFARS Archive.