Cyber-enabled attacks take an enormous toll on American businesses, government agencies, and families.
In 2017, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received a total of 301,580 complaints, with reported losses exceeding $1.4 billion. Criminals have been able to exploit the popularity of social networking and online commerce to commit a variety of crimes, including internet fraud, child exploitation, identity theft, and elder financial exploitation.
Faced with the growing threat of cyber crime, it is crucial for state and local police agencies to invest in cyber programs. From the standpoint of a criminal, cyber crime is a relatively low-risk crime that has the potential for enormous rewards. Until police agencies become adept at preventing and investigating cyber crime, there may not be significant deterrents to thwart cyber crime relative to other types of crime.
But cyber investigations and the prevention of cyber crime pose special challenges to law enforcement agencies. Malicious software and other cyber tools used to perpetrate crimes are sold in forums and chat rooms on the dark web, which provides for anonymity. In addition to dealing with these threats, law enforcement must also build secure and resilient information systems to support their operations and address the exponential growth in digital evidence and forensic investigations.
Since the nature of the internet is so anonymous, it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate or trick other users. Young children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to criminal acts because they are often trusting, naïve, and curious. Children must be taught to be careful about the information that they share online and the sites that they visit.
Technology can also be misused by abusers and perpetrators in more personal crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, elder financial exploitation, and human trafficking. Stalkers are increasingly using a variety of computer technologies to harass, terrify, intimidate, coerce, and monitor former and current family members and intimate partners.
While technology has greatly enhanced our ability to connect with others around the world and conduct business regardless of our location, it has also exposed us to a variety of scams. Each time we connect to the internet, we make decisions affecting our cybersecurity.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an opportunity to review best practices in protecting personal information online and learning more to ensure that you and your family are safe online.
Visit the following pages for additional resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: