PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Thursday morning news conference really focused on businesses being targeted by criminals, including boroughs and municipalities. But when it comes to cybercrime, we’re told it really is everyone’s problem.
The numbers are alarming.
“The state, number six in the nation, and the Pittsburgh area was number one in the state,” said Doug Olson, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Cyber Program.
We’re talking about internet crimes and how it’s become a major problem in Pennsylvania — even more so in Pittsburgh.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Cyber Program at the FBI office in Pittsburgh, Doug Olson, spoke to the media this morning.
He says it’s not a matter of “if” you’re going to be a victim, but rather “when.”
“We always talk about the internet and how great it is to connect all of us and make the world a lot smaller. But unfortunately, it’s also created an environment where a malicious cyber actor can commit an act pretty much anywhere he chooses in the world.”
To give you an idea of how much the city has been impacted, in one year, there was a 107 percent increase between 2017 and 2018 for “Business Email Compromise,” complaints also known as BEC.
In 2017, there were 163 BEC complaints in FBI Pittsburgh with losses of $5,653,624, while in 2018, there were 247 BEC complaints in FBI Pittsburgh with losses of $11,709,119.
And the percentage of losses was even more staggering for ransomware complaints in those same years.
The numbers may seem low, but there was a 366 percent increase.
In 2017, there were 24 ransomware complaints with losses of $1,071. But 2018 saw 22 ransomware complaints with losses of $5,000.
So, how can businesses, small or large, protect themselves?
Olson suggests education.
“The main way they still get in on these business email compromises is through those phishing emails. I think educating your employees and your workforce is the quickest and (most) inexpensive thing you can do,” he said.
KDKA has also learned the numbers have increased nationally as well when it comes to cybercrime.