FBI has issued a holiday warning for online retailers and shoppers to prevent cyber scams.
The beaureau also gave out some tips to prevent being victimized by scammers, including doing thorough research before purchasing online.
FBI Issues Holiday Warning Against Cyberattacks
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stated that cybercriminals make millions of dollars on ransomware attacks during the holidays and weekends, per CBS Pittsburgh.
In relation to this, more than 3,000 students and employees at Butler County Community College were the recent victims of a cyberattack. For this reason, the college closed for two days to address the said attack.
With that being stated, the FBI expects even more people to be affected by holiday scams.
FBI Supervisory Agent Jonathan Holmes stated that they have observed exponential growth of cyberattacks as well as the rapid increase in ransom demands over the last couple of years.
Surprisingly, Agent Holmes added that cyberattackers are now demanding tens of millions of dollars.
The FBI agent also stated that people behind this might be the same individuals that have been around for years that used to steal credit card information.
"They now recognize instead of stealing credits; I can make way more money by just hitting a business with ransomware and demanding a large amount of money," Holmes furthered on CBS Pittsburgh.
For those who are not familiar with what ransomware is, it is a sort of malicious program, also known as malware, that prohibits users from accessing their computer files, systems, or networks and demands to pay a ransom to regain access to them, per FBI.
Ransomware attacks may result in costly operations interruptions as well as the compromise of vital information and data.
By opening an email attachment, clicking an ad, clicking a link, or even visiting a malware-infected website can all unintentionally install ransomware onto a computer.
CBS Pittsburgh furthered that the FBI received more than 2,000 ransomware reports from January to July 2021, totaling more than $16 million in damages. The said number is a 20 percent increase over the same period in 2020.
Since the holiday season is approaching, the FBI issued a holiday warning that could prevent cyber scams.
4 Tips to Prevent Holiday Scams
4. Have Offline Backups
According to Holmes, people should keep an eye on the networks for unusual activity and ensure that the system is patched. Aside from this, retailers should also keep their software up to date.
In addition to this, Norton also stated that software updates are essential for everyone's digital safety and cyber security.
3. Report Directly to the FBI
If a person or retailer becomes is victimized, Holmes advised to not pay the ransom. Rather, immediately notify the FBI so that they can investigate and bring the offender to justice.
FBI also added that paying a ransom does not ensure that any data will be recovered. Additionally, it also motivates criminals to target additional victims, as well as provides an incentive for others to engage in illicit conduct.
To report the said cybercriminal, victims should contact their local FBI field office. Aside from this, they could also submit a tip online. Moreover, scam victims could also file a report to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
2. Do Extensive Research Before Purchasing
When it comes to digital shopping, Holmes advised people to do their research and verify that the website is safe.
Furthermore, online shoppers must remember six criteria when evaluating a website. The said criteria are authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage, and appearance.
1. Beware of Clickable Links Online
The last piece of advice that Agent Holmes stated is that people should be cautious of the clickable link online. It is best not to give out personal information.