SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the FBI’s office in Springfield is using the occasion to warn of ever-increasing numbers of cybercrimes and cyberattacks.

In a news release, the FBI said that from its perspective, cyber investigations encompass internet crime, which includes scams and fraud, and cyber intrusions like ransomware and phishing scams that affect businesses and critical infrastructure.

“At a time when artificial intelligence is ripe for abuse and criminals attempt to exploit the technology, the FBI continues to be the lead federal agency responsible for investigating cyberattacks. And as threats change, the FBI changes with them,” said FBI Springfield Field
Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “Cybercrime affects individuals and businesses alike, so by educating the public we hope to prevent victimization, and by partnering with the private sector we hope to strengthen defenses and develop powerful and sophisticated cyber solutions.”

A 2022 report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center found that Illinois ranks 5th in the U.S. for the most internet crime victims. The cost of this crime to victims is almost $267 million, the 7th highest in the nation.

The FBI office has released a list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of a cybercrime:

  • 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.
  • Be suspicious of requests for secrecy or pressure to take action quickly.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Beware of sudden changes in business practices with vendors or customers.
    • For example: If a current business contact suddenly asks to be contacted via their personal email address when all previous official correspondence has been through company email, the request could be fraudulent.
  • Businesses should create an incident response plan that includes a relationship with your
    local FBI field office.
  • Take time to read consumer and industry alerts provided by the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of cybercrime is encouraged to call the FBI Springfield Office at 217-522-9675.