SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the FBI is spreading the word and tips to help people avoid becoming victims.

A report of cybercrime in 2021 by the Internet Crime Complaint Center shows that Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for the most Internet crimes and seventh in total victim losses at almost $185 million. By victim count, identity theft ranks the highest followed by non-payment/non-delivery crimes. By dollar loss, business email composite is at the top.

“It’s important for the public to remain vigilant to guard against ever-increasing cyber threats. At home, practicing good cyber hygiene is an effective way to create a safer online environment for you and your family,” said FBI Springfield Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “Stopping cyberattacks and degrading cyber threat actors requires quick action, so the FBI requests you notify us at the first sign of an attack.”

The FBI listed several tips that people can follow to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Do not open any email attachment or click a link unless you are expecting the file, document, or invoice and have verified the sender’s email address.
  • Avoid using free charging stations in airports and shopping centers as these can infect devices with malware and monitoring software.
  • Keep systems and software up to date and install a strong, reputable anti-virus program.
  • Create a strong and unique passphrase for each online account and change passphrases regularly
  • Use multi-factor authentication
  • Examine the email address in all correspondence and scrutinize website URLs before responding to a message or visiting a site
  • Be cautious about the information you share in online profiles and social media accounts
  • Don’t send payments to unknown people or organizations that are seeking monetary support and urge immediate actions
  • Take time to read consumer and industry alerts provided by the Internet Crime Complaint Center

Cyber-enabled crime can be reported to the FBI through the Internet Crime Complaint Center. This allows complaints to be directed appropriately and guide the FBI’s response to cyber-enabled crimes while educating the public and supporting local law enforcement with a searchable database of information.