It’s an age-old crime: stealing, according to the FBI.
But it’s not about picking a pocket or holding up a bank. It’s robbing people of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions — what’s called intellectual property — everything from trade secrets and proprietary products and parts to movies and music and software.
It’s a growing threat — especially with the rise of digital technologies and Internet file sharing networks. And much of the theft takes place overseas, where laws are often lax and enforcement more difficult. All told, intellectual property theft costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars a year and robs the nation of jobs and lost tax revenues, according to the FBI.
Preventing intellectual property theft is a priority of the FBI’s criminal investigative program. The FBI specifically focuses on the theft of trade secrets and infringements on products that can impact consumers’ health and safety, such as counterfeit aircraft, car and electronic parts. Key to success is linking the considerable resources and efforts of the private sector with law enforcement partners on local, state, federal and international levels.
Criminals typically use sophisticated types of malware designed specifically to infiltrate U.S. businesses’ internal email and networks. The malware steals credentials from the computers it infects. The malware is predominately spread through spam e-mail or phishing messages.
Cybercriminals have become quite savvy in their attempts to lure people in and get you to click on a link or open an attachment.
The email they send can look just like it comes from a colleague, government agency or other legitimate source. If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting your colleague or the agency directly before opening it.
Protect your computer from malware:
- Make sure you have updated antivirus software on your computer.
- Enable automated patches for your operating system and web browser.
Have strong passwords, and don’t use the same passwords for everything.
- Use a pop-up blocker.
- Only download software — especially free software — from sites you know and trust (malware can also come in downloadable games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars).
- Don’t open attachments in unsolicited e-mails, even if they come from people in your contact list, and never click on a URL contained in an e-mail, even if you think it looks safe. Instead, close out the e-mail and go to the organization’s website directly.
- Follow the cybersecurity guidance issued by your organization and report any suspicious activity to your organization’s cybersecurity officials.
For more information, go to http://www.fbi.gov.