October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, administered by the Department of Homeland Security. This is the perfect time of year for individuals, businesses, and other organizations to reflect on the universe of cyber threats and to do their part to protect their networks, their devices, and their data from those threats.
-- Within the past year, personally identifiable information has been stolen in a number of significant cyber data breaches, impacting industries like health care, government, finance, corporate, and retail.
-- The use of malware by online criminals continues unabated, and of the available intrusion devices, the “bot” is particularly pervasive, allowing attackers to take control remotely of compromised computers. Once in place, these “botnets” can be used in distributed denial-of-service attacks, proxy and spam services, additional malware distribution, and other organized criminal activity.
-- Cyber criminals perpetrate a wide variety of crimes online, including theft of intellectual property, Internet fraud, identity fraud, and any number of financial fraud schemes.
-- Sexual predators use the Internet and social media to target the youngest and most vulnerable victims.
-- And many criminals use the so-called “dark web” or “dark market” websites that offer a range of illegal goods and services for sale on a network designed to conceal the true IP addresses of the computers on it.
The FBI—working in conjunction with its many partners at the local, state, federal, and international levels, as well as with industry—takes its own role in cyber security very seriously. That role involves operational efforts—including investigating and disrupting cyber-related national security threats and cyber-crimes and collecting, analyzing, and disseminating cyber threat intelligence. It also involves outreach efforts to industry.
Here are just a few examples of how we’re doing all of that:
-- The FBI-led National Cyber Joint Investigative Task Force serves as the national focal point for coordinating cyber threat investigations. The work of the NCJITF includes a national public/private initiative to mitigate the use of botnets and malware by criminals, which has emerged as a global cyber security threat.
-- Cyber task forces in all 56 field offices coordinate domestic cyber threat investigations in local communities through information sharing, incident response, and joint enforcement and intelligence actions.
-- InfraGard—an information-sharing and analysis effort with private sector partners who own, operate, and hold key positions within some 85 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure—equips its members to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, develop incident response plans, and enact security best practices.
-- The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) accepts online submissions for Internet-related crime complaints, often involving fraudulent claims to consumers. These complaints can not only lead to culprits getting caught, but also help identify regional, national, or international trends to educate the public about constantly evolving cyber threats and scams.
-- The FBI’s Safe Online Surfing website, an online program that promotes cyber citizenship by educating young students in the essentials of online security in an effort to help protect them from child predators, cyber bullies, malware, a multitude of schemes, and other dangers on the Internet.
The Bureau will continue to work jointly with our national security and law enforcement partners to address threats to the nation’s cyber security from nation-states, terrorist organizations, transnational criminal enterprises, and child predators. But government can’t do it alone—assistance and vigilance from the public is vital.
Stay tuned to the FBI website during the month of October—it will be providing you with tips that will help keep your families and your businesses safe from cyber criminals.
- More on National Cyber Security Awareness Month
- Department of Justice’s Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting of Cyber Instances (pdf)
- Department of Homeland Security’s cyber security tips
- Stay Safe Online website
- U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team
- FBI Cyber’s Most Wanted